Communication is ALWAYS understood within the context of the receiver
By Carol Bond
We all communicate, some of us more or less effectively than others. I recently sat in a meeting with a colleague to discuss various solutions for an application. He had drawn a wonderful picture that looked great, with details of all our options.
My reaction was ‘okay, for me to make sense of this, I need to put it into a table format, so that I can analyse the information properly and then the answer will be clear’. His response was ‘but what about my picture – it’s all there’! And therein lies the biggest barrier to effective communication. He was insulted and I was perplexed!
It took some hard work to get the communication dynamic right before we could begin to be productive. Most of us think we communicate clearly. Some of us know about the 7 Cs of communication – it should be clear, concise, correct, coherent, concrete, complete and courteous.
But the one thing that most of us neglect is putting ourselves in the shoes of the person we’re communicating with. We are like animals in the zoo; we all have different styles and natures. You certainly wouldn’t get all warm and fuzzy with a tiger…or be wary of a koala bear!
If we are not consciously aware of these differences in style and nature when communicating we can trigger unnecessary resistance. For me, the golden rule of communication is that it is always understood within the context of the receiver.
If you’re communicating with someone who is focused on the big picture, give them information on the big picture. If you’re dealing with an analytical person give them details and provide statistics, facts and case studies to support the content you’re communicating.
Some people like to feel warm and fuzzy, so engage in some social chat before getting down to business. Some people are very task focussed, so stick to the topic and get your point across quickly and concisely. I worked with the MD of a multibillion dollar organisation. His mantra was that “if you don’t get to the point of your meeting within the first ten minutes I will leave!”
Considering that communication forms the basis of all relationships, it is imperative that we get it right….and getting it right means considering the behavioural style of the person you are communicating with.
Tips for effective communication
- Consider the communication style of your target audience.
- Present your message in the style they feel comfortable with.
- When dealing with someone who is focussed on the bottom line, give them a concise overview.
- When dealing with someone who is analytical, give them facts and figures.
- When dealing with a social animal, engage in some social chat before getting down to business.
- If you’re not sure of your audience’s style start with a broad strokes overview but have facts and figures at hand.
- Whilst you are communicating, pick up on the rhythm and pace of the other person’s communication style and pay attention to non-verbal cues.
About the Author
Carol is a highly professional and engaging consultant and trainer with a strong focus on the quality of service to clients. In addition to her business and academic credentials she has extensive business experience which translates to an enhanced learning experience for the client. She has extensive Management, Sales and Marketing experience across various sectors and in several countries. Her current role is focused on three key areas: serving as a professional development consultant specializing in sales and management training; delivering business consultancy; and management coaching.