Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thoughts on communication.

This topic comes to mind because of a comment by a senior technician during a recent consulting project interview. He said:
“I don’t expect management to rub our bellies - just talk to us and listen to us like we were intelligent human beings. This is our livelihood - we don’t want to mess it up.”

To build or maintain a relationship, you must communicate honestly and reveal yourself to someone else. People naturally hold back until they’re aware of the intentions of others. The more we trust someone, the more deeply we can communicate with them.

Recent studies suggest that over 90% of all communication is non-verbal. Attitude, spirit and body language are all factors in the communication process. Understandings or misunderstandings in verbal communication come through the interpretation of three things:

1. Words: about 7% of interpretation is based on the words used.

2. Tones: about 33% of interpretation is based on the tones used. Someone can say “have a nice day,” but by their tone make it clear that they wish the opposite.

3. Body language: about 60% of interpretation is based on body language.

Expressing our wants, feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively is only half of the communication process. The other half is listening and understanding what others communicate to us. When a person decides to communicate with another person, he or she does so to fulfill a need. The person wants something, feels discomfort, or has feelings or thoughts about something. When deciding to communicate, the person selects the method or code which he or she believes will effectively deliver the message. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal. When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding or interpreting it into understanding and meaning. Effective communication exists between two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender’s message in the same way the sender intended it.

There are three basic listening styles:

1. Competitive or Combative Listening: Here we’re more interested in promoting our own point of view than in understanding or exploring someone else’s view. We either listen for openings to take the floor, or for flaws or weak points we can attack. While we pretend to pay attention, we're impatiently waiting for an opening, or internally formulating our rebuttal and planning our devastating comeback that will destroy their argument and make us the victor.

2. In Passive or Attentive Listening, we’re genuinely interested in hearing and understanding the other person’s point of view. We’re attentive and assume that we heard and understand what they said correctly. but we don’t verify it.

3. Active or Reflective Listening is the single most useful and important listening skill. In active listening, we’re also genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting or what the message means, but we’re active in checking out our understanding before we respond with our own new message. We restate or paraphrase our understanding of their message and reflect it back to the sender for verification.

More tomorrow............

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very interesting. I hadn't thought of different ways to listen before. Thank you.