The language you use in every day discussions is always up for interpretation therefore the most effective way to solve communication problems is to ask questions in order to reduce assumptions and misunderstanding.
However over the years I have found that when I am not emotionally in control my tone can result in the whole questioning process going wrong. Instead of sounding curious and interested I come across as aggressive and judgemental.
During our leadership training retreats we train 4 models one of which is the internal feedback process that takes you from problem to outcome.
Below are the 4 statements/questions designed by Caitlin Walker of Training Attention which I recommend you use before talking to anyone when you feel emotionally charged and it will help you to learn how to solve communication problems faster:
- What are you hearing and seeing that is causing you cause for concern?
- Be Curious, when you hear and see ……..you infer what?
- Acknowledge what kind of impact it is having on you both physically and emotionally
- Check in with yourself. now that you know that what would you like to have happen?
Below is a great example of a conversation I had with one of my associates and how this process helped set us up for success.
I was away on holiday and an associate of mine was meeting with a client that potentially we would co-write a proposal for a leadership training retreat.
When I got back I received an email saying that she had met the client 3 days before and advised the client that she would have a proposal to them in about a week. She then asked if I was available in 4 days time to discuss it further.
My first reaction was of disappointment and frustration then fear. I wanted to have time to be able to write an effective proposal and this seemed like we would have to rush it and risked not delivering something that I would be happy with.
I use the above clean feedback model developed by Caitlin Walker of Training Attention to process my own thoughts first.
This is what happened?
What I heard and saw was a promise to deliver in about a week. That to me meant that we would email a response by day 6. Therefore meeting me on day 7 left us no time to actually write it, reflect and then edit it.
I felt she had set us up to fail by promising 7 days when we could not possibly deliver in that time frame.
I infer from this that we will be late and we look unprofessional.
The impact is that I am annoyed with my associate and fearful that the whole process of writing the proposal will be a waste of time because we will lose it just because we did not start of with a good first impression.
What I would like to have happen is to maintain a good working relationship and set us up for success.
With my focus on maintaining the relationship and setting us up for success the conversation was focused on understanding and curiosity.
After some thought I recognised that I was making assumptions about the definition of ‘about a week’
So I asked her “What does about a week mean to you?”
I then shared my version.
To her about a week did not have the same meaning. Once we had identified that we both had a different meaning I asked and “What kind of meaning do you think the potential client has?”
My colleague was unclear exactly how she left is so decided to drop him an email on the 5th day and gave him an actual date the full proposal would be there. He was more than happy in fact he mentioned he was away for a week so that would be perfect time for him to digest it. We then submitted that proposal 2 days earlier. We didn’t win the contract but we did learn as a partnership what was needed to manage expectations of all future clients so I did maintain the relationship.
This kind of misunderstanding can happen in every day conversations all the time. Why not ask a friend or colleague for their definition of about a week?
What is your definition
This article has focused on time but it could just as easily have been the word productive or effective.
If you spend your day frustrated because it feels like people are not listening be mindful it might be that they simply heard something differently based on their interpretation.
How to lead a team to solve communication problems faster?
Increasing your own awareness and learning to listen with fewer assumptions and judgements is the first step to leading a team at your best. Learning how to manage your emotional reaction the other people’s behaviour is part of that process.
This is a site dedicated to improving listening skills and the impact of feedback ensuring you are resourced to work and learn at your best more of the time. Improving listening skills can improve performance and sales freeing your mind to be there for your family. It always interests me that only 2% of the population ever take any formal listening skills training. If this article has been useful please share how to lead a team.com with your friends.If you didn’t find it useful please tell me. If you would like to find out more don’t miss our next Listen Lunch and Learn session or call me for a no obligation chat. +44(0)1329 286648
About the Author
Sheryl Andrews, Founder of Step by Step Listening, although best known for her fast speaking and highly motivational passion to help others achieve, she has also been mortified to discover that others did not interpret her behaviour as supportive but instead controlling.
Sheryl was no stranger in the past to challenging conversations, lapses in self belief and an overwhelming sense of not being enough. After a heartbreaking divorce and the death of her mother closely followed by the heartbreaking experience of a teen going off the rails all whilst attempting to grow her business, Sheryl became determined to find practical ways to improve listening skills for both home and business. What worked for Sheryl was to improve listening and networking skills first which resulted in more business and less financial stress at home.
The same skills have now been transferred and used to improve how you lead a team. Today Sheryl is proud to have developed a successful business, a great support network of friends, a strong bond with both her children and his happily married to her best friend Mark.
Does that mean she always gets it right? No! But what it does mean is that for those who are prepared to learn with her lasting and empowering relationships are formed.
Today her leadership training days and retreats all run from her family home are known for transforming the way you think and communicate. Bringing clarity and understanding fast to why people don’t listen to you and how you can improve listening skills and your response to their feedback.
If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, then do give her a call. If you are noticing patterns and even if you are not sure it is to do with listening skills or the impact of feedback then call anyway and find out today what your next best step is.
Don’t know how call to gain clarity, focus and understanding call her now….+44(0)1329 286648
Sheryl says “I am more than happy to have a no obligation chat to understand what is happening for you now and what you would like to have happen or download my free self coaching guide “Success Without Stress”
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