What is your purpose in communicating with another person?
Perhaps you are seeking to relay a request about your desire to connect and pursue a relationship. Or maybe, direct an individual or group of people to move across a causeway for safety. On the other hand, you may be seeking clarification on a topic under discussion. Just because you have an understanding in your mind of what you wish to convey does not mean you will. Nor does it mean those with whom you are speaking to, are receptive or interested in hearing what you have to say.
“Berlo when he writes, “Communication does not consist of the
transmission of meaning. Meanings are not transmitted, nor
transferable. Only messages are transmittable, and meanings are
not in the message, they are in the message-user.,,2 Communication
is man’s attempt to cope with his experience, his current mood, his
emerging needs. For every person, it is a unique act of creation involving
dissimilar materials. But it is, within broad limits, assumed to be
predictable or there could be no theory of communication.”
David Berlo, The Procf!8S of Communication
(New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winstoil, 1960), p.175.
Sample That You Can Relate To
Multiple examples can be shared as to miscommunications among colleagues, within family conversations and when engaging with one another in general public. The solution is in your intent to draw out the meaning interpreted by the receiver of your message.
When I am working with people from India, I’ll make a request three different ways so that I am sure they have heard and understood my request. I have experienced that they are eager to do the work and get started so the conversation is one of ‘absolutes’ conveying that they are able to do the work. It is a matter of understanding that they want to secure the job, letting me feel that they are capable and can get the job done quickly. What I have learned is that speed is a killer of good intention and by my asking three times, three different ways for their clarification of what I believe I have said, confirms to me that I am indeed asking for the right job to be done. Ensuring that they understand my request.
Conversely, when I am requesting something from a family member, I am cognizant of the dynamics of my past relationship with my family member and whether I should even ask such a request. Then as I ask, I will position the request in such a way that their interest has been taken into consideration and the clarification of such is key to the acceptance process. The past relationship is key in these situations. The history is everything.
A third example taken from a very different engagement is one of title and authority power. When was the last time you encountered a micro-manager who would not respect the investment the company has made in you being a part of the team? Riles you every opportunity and even berates you in public meetings. Have you attempted to identify their areas of concern only to be shot down as not being in your ‘wheelhouse’?
Each one of these scenarios and many more that you encounter on a daily bases is a barrier to effective interpersonal communications.
Four Elements of Intent:
Trust as with a psychologist and patient. Have you given the person in question enough time and information for them to trust you?
Dynamism does your behavior endear those that you are expecting to follow you. Do you present an air of active, open and frank exchange in your intent?
Reliability. The phrase, ‘do as I do and say,’ is most readily seen in parent-child relationships. The parent says one thing and acts another way. Through the eyes of their children, (teachers and pupils have this same dynamic) this is destructive and confusing. We see this same issue in the work environment when a company exposes one ethical view and yet a small select group of employees get open access to resources which are restricted to most. The seated disgust of such an environment undermines the credibility of leadership, the desire to be fully engaged by most of their employees and cultivates a less than caring customer service culture throughout the company.
Expertness. Is an area that expands from /Subject Matter Expert (SME), Tacit knowledge, learned on the job and evidenced by successfully and repeatedly galvanizing the trust of your employees and associates. The degree of and ability of skill and validity of judgment all play to support your people that gives substance to the expert’s opinion. Your ability to do so builds trust.
Bringing It Home
Your ability to identify the most effective means by which to communicate with others will determine your acceptance by your team, your employees and associates. Whether you are communicating face to face or with the aid of online communication tools, affirming what is important to and how others want to be communicated will dictate the level of engagement and hence how well they will embrace your request or orders. Look back at your past attempts and earnestly gauge your level of success from this point of view. Would more knowledge on your part create a better outcome? Would marshaling your troops cause them to believe in you any more than they currently do? Does the threat of losing their jobs sustain the desired levels of engagement you need to turn the tide of apathy around?
You already know the answers to these questions. Then it is up to you as a leader to spend some time crafting a new script that shows your manager, supervisors, directors all that investing the time to communicate on purpose returns greater dividends and a higher level of outcome. Let it be you to redefine what is your purpose in communicating with your people.
Thank you for reading this article.
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Be seeing you!
Ronald M. Allen