“Communication is the response you get.”
This is a well-known statement from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). But what does this phrase really mean? You may think that communication happens when you convey a message to someone, whether through speech, writing or graphically. However, communication is more than that. For the full act of communication to happen, there must be at least one person on the other end, not only to receive, but to understand the message. It is that person’s response shows your success at conveying your message.
Telling someone something is not the same as communicating with them. For example, have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they took what you said in a completely different way from what you meant? Or have you heard the expression “It’s not WHAT you said, it’s HOW you said it?”
So we see that communication is much more than just the words you say.
We communicate using three modalities: sight, sound and feeling (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic). For true communication to occur, all three must be in alignment and we must therefore understand which modality is likely to take precedence in the other person’s perception, and tailor our message accordingly.
It is said that face to face communication is around 55% body language, 35% tonality and 10% the words we say. So for example if you’re talking to somebody at a networking meeting, whilst your words may be telling them about your business, your body language could be saying “I don’t know why I’m bothering to speak to you – there’s somebody over there from a much bigger company and I want to be talking to them!”
Regardless of what you want to communicate, how the person on the other end receives that communication is critical. If you convey your intended message, your communication was successful. If the person on the other end does not get the message or gets the wrong message, your communication was not successful. Understanding this difference is critical to your business growth strategy.
I see the biggest challenges with communication when business owners start to take on team members and delegate work to them. I often get comments such as “they don’t do what I ask”, “it is easier to do it myself than get somebody to do it for me” and “why don’t they understand what I want?” If your message is not getting across, then you are having trouble communicating with your audience and therefore you need to do something different to get your message through.
Firstly, you need to take responsibility for what others are hearing, seeing, or feeling in your communication. This is something many people will not do. They think their message is clear, so it must be the person on the receiving end who has the problem. But if your audience doesn’t get the message, the problem is not your audience, it’s your message or your delivery. In either case, you have to take responsibility for it.
Getting your message across clearly is obviously very important in meetings with your team. So before you start the meeting, make sure you are 100% clear in your own mind what you want to achieve and that you have given yourself enough time to get the message across. Too many people rush into meetings, garble a load of stuff that is on their mind and then rush off, leaving the delegates dazed and confused.
As soon as you get together with your audience, think about what emotional and mental state they are in. Are they calm and open to receiving communication, or stressed and closed? Is their level of knowledge suitable for the information you are about to pass onto them? What is on their mind at the moment – could they have other more important things going on in their head?
I find the use of a simple question: “what do you feel like expressing?” (or as we call it, a WIFLE) before you begin your communication, is a great way to get an understanding of where the other person is. Just make sure it does not become a WAFFLE!
You also need to develop great active listening skills. You need to see, hear and feel if your message got across the way you intended it to. You might be getting a verbal “yes I understand,” from the other person, but the tone and body language might suggest that they have not got a clue what you mean. You must make sure that you are 100% present yourself. If you have other things on your mind, then you will not pick up on this subtle feedback.
I always like to make sure my delegate has paper and pen with them and will often ask them if they need to take notes. You will get to know the people who do and don’t need to write things down, but it is always your responsibility to make sure that they do if they need to – after all, if you do not delegate correctly then the task may well not get done correctly!
Finally, you should always end the meeting by asking the other person to summarise what you have asked them to do and what their next step is. This will give you a final check to see that the message has been successfully communicated. Oh, and remember to gauge their level of enthusiasm for the task. This will give you a clue on whether you need to check in on them part way through to make sure they are on track.
So now you know how to communicate effectively, take Action and get your message across!