Despite what we have been told, effective communication is more than words, intonation, and inflection. Communications effectiveness (one of the eight pillars of SuRF) also involves awareness. There is often a monumental disconnect between what is being said and what is being heard between people. That disconnect can be the difference between being informing and being insulting.
As leaders, co-workers, managers, parents and friends understanding how our messages are being delivered and heard is as important as making certain they are being sent and received.
I have participated in several conversations where someone plays back to me a conversation they had with one of their direct reports. When they share what they said and the message they wanted to convey, there was a significant difference between the two. When I explain to them what I heard, they respond with a surprised response along the lines of, “that is definitely not what I meant.” Unfortunately, that is what was heard.
In our communications think about the person you are sending the message to. What is you want them to know and understand? What is it you want them to hear?
I know that I can get caught up in saying things in my assertive, authoritarian way. I am comfortable with what I am thinking and saying; sometimes too comfortable. However, my message style and approach may make someone else uncomfortable. In their discomfort, they may stop listening or misconstrue the message.
The objective of any interaction I have with people is to build relationships, learn from their insights, and help discover and solve problems. I cannot be very effective in that regard if my messages and conversations are received in such a way that they shut down.
Be cognizant of your communications style. Be aware of the behaviors and responses people have to your messages. If there appears to be a disconnect or a lack of engagement, chances are the person to blame for the breakdown in communications is you.