Communication is all about perception. What you say is not necessarily what someone else hears and how you intend for your message to be heard is not necessarily how someone will take it.
How someone hears your message will depend on their own communication style, personality, preferences, experience, knowledge, emotional intelligence, mindset and much more.
That’s why self-awareness and interpersonal skills are so important; as is understanding no-one else thinks exactly like you.
People who are highly self-aware see themselves closer to how other people see them. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and the affect their communication style has on others.
People without self-awareness lack this ability. They don’t reflect on the impact of their communication and tend to take a ‘one size fits all, like it or lump it, this is who I am’ approach.
This (often aggressive) approach may work for a while, but ultimately will hold you back – particularly if you’re in leadership. While some people may relate to your style, others will be put off and disengage. When people disengage, they find it hard to follow and certainly won’t produce their best work.
To communicate well you must consider other people’s styles and adjust yours to suit the situation and individual.
It’s not about pandering to other people, being inauthentic, or changing who you are; rather, it’s about using your emotional intelligence and social skills to work with the other person and give yourself the best chance of having your message heard and achieving the outcome you want.
For example, if you’re communicating with a passive person who is intimidated easily, a direct and assertive approach won’t work. They’ll shut down and likely perceive you as aggressive – even though this wasn’t your intent. In this case, you need to put more effort into framing the conversation in a way that softens the blow.
On the flipside, talking around an issue and taking a softly-softly approach won’t be respected by an assertive communicator who values direct and concise conversation. They want you to get to the point quickly and tell it like it is.
The best communicators understand this and adjust accordingly. They’re consistent, but know how to tailor their approach to suit. As a result, they increase their chances of communicating in a way that genuinely connects with the person they’re speaking with and because of this, they also increase their success.
There’s no one size fits all approach to communication. The best thing you can do is develop your skills and emotional intelligence to help you communicate more effectively.
Leah Mether is a communications specialist, trainer and Director of Methmac Communications.
To develop your communication skills, book a ticket to one of Leah’s upcoming workshops:
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: DEVELOPING ASSERTIVENESS FOR PERSONAL AND CAREER SUCCESS
Warragul – 2 October, 6:15pm-9:15pm, www.effectivewarragul.eventbrite.com.au
Sale – 11 October, 9:30am-2:30pm, www.effectivecommssale.eventbrite.com.au
Inverloch – 24 October, 9:30am-2:30pm, www.effectivecommsinverloch.eventbrite.com.au
Three-day leadership retreat in collaboration with Maree McPherson Consulting
10-12 November, Silverwater Resort, San Remo.
Tickets at www.immersiveleadership.eventbrite.com.au