Do you ever say something and the response isn’t what you expected or intended. You may think you are being clear, open, and straightforward, but what comes back suggests otherwise. The root of most miscommunication is good intentions, unintended consequences. Next time, before you escalate, get defensive or second-guess yourself, try these surprisingly simple adjustments to become a better communicator and more trusted partner.
Challenge: When you ask your partner where he or she wants to go out for dinner and you get this tentative response, “I don’t care, wherever you want to go is fine.”
Solution: Respond like this, “As long as we are together, that’s what matters most to me.”
Lesson: Some people won’t share their opinions or ideas until they feel safe enough with you and know you won’t judge them. Above all, they need to know you care about them as a person, no strings attached.
Challenge: When you ask someone a simple question and they respond with another question or, even worse, they question your motives.
Solution: Disclose your motives first, then ask your question. Example: “I am anxious about feeling prepared for the upcoming board meeting. Will you please run the current financials for me?”
Lesson: When you don’t share your motives, you invite people not to trust you. Most motives are emotional, like wanting to feel secure or confident or prepared.
Challenge: When you get honest with someone and say, “I feel like you don’t respect my boundaries…” and they get defensive.
Solution: Get rid of the word, “like” in your sentence, and own your own feelings without reference to the other person’s behavior. Example: “I feel angry and defensive right now. I interpreted your remarks to mean……”
Lesson: You are 100% responsible for your feelings. Never use “like” after a feeling because it turns it into an assumption or accusation. Never imply that someone else is to blame for your feelings.
Caution: These are behavioral solutions and they don’t address the underlying mindsets. When trying these new behaviors, you may may experience some internal struggle. That’s OK, because it means you are facing attitudes and beliefs that interfere with your ability to communicate effectively.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
Next Element specializes in behavioral training for more effective communication and leadership. We will help you change the behaviors and the mindsets that get in your way so that you can engage differently for breakthrough results.
Call today about training and coaching for you or your team.