When it comes to communicating, there are effective and ineffective ways to go about it. There are factors that exist that affect how someone communicates, whether they communicate poorly or effectively. The primary factors impacting how effective one is at communicating are listening, open-mindedness, and actively engaging in the conversation. Secondary factors include conflict resolution, and proactively and effectively providing and receiving feedback.
Effective communicators engage in an appropriate exchange of information. They feel a need to receive information, but also have the ability to provide information at the appropriate level. Because they have good listening skills, they know how to actively engage in listening, which means instead of just hearing what others say, they are actually taking in what someone is saying—comprehending, retaining and relating to what is being said. People that manage these behaviors are good at rephrasing what they have heard. They have well-developed or well-managed dominance and energy. These are genetic behavioral traits that, when not managed, cause people to be controlling, impatient, and present with a drive to win a position while rationalizing why it is acceptable to operate in what is clearly an ineffective way.
Now this is only the tip of the iceberg, as listening requires that one seek the appropriate amount of information regardless of the presenter’s skills. This includes the ability to be open-minded, and not overly critical of the sources grasp of information. Effective communicators are also able to engage in conflict resolution, because they are typically emotionally prepared and have actively listened to what the other person has said. Rather than shutting down during conflict, or tuning out what the other person is saying, effective communicators listen and engage in the situation properly. Lastly, the key influencer in being an effective communicator is being relevant in both providing and receiving feedback—not providing or seeking too little, or too much.
Those who are below the effective range of communicating do not share information or feedback well, if at all. They are also not looking for information. Typically, there are very few advantages for people who are ineffective communicators. The only benefit may be if someone was involved in a job that required a lot of confidentiality, otherwise the disadvantages far exceed the advantages in being an ineffective communicator.
For example, these people usually are the cause of shutting down the flow of information. They are also less effective in their decisions and tend to ignore details because they try to get to the bottom line as quickly as possible. People below the effective range of communicating are also shut down during times of tension and conflict, creating their own internal stress. They can be perceived as trying to gain control because they share only what they believe is absolutely necessary and assume others know what they are thinking and what needs to be done.
In order for these people to improve their communication skills and reach the effective range of communication, they need to exchange information at a higher level and with greater frequency. They need to not be secretive and clearly communicate their ideas and intent. They should also make sure they are not making decisions without all the relevant data. Lastly, these people need to work on being more engaging and active listeners.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who are above the effective range of communication typically engage in too much information and tend to be longwinded. They spend too much time looking for and providing information. The advantages of these people are that they are thorough and data-driven; they tend to do their homework before making decisions. They tend to build group participation and teamwork because they are constantly looking for information, keeping others in the loop and encouraging others to voice their opinion and ideas. These people also establish two-way communication in a more effective way and are able to develop better organization commitment because they feel they are part of the process. However, there are many disadvantages with these people as well. Those who are above the effective range of communication are known for rambling and can lose focus because they share too much information. These people also have a tendency to talk rather than listen and they may say inappropriate things because they talk for extended periods of time. They also have an excessive need for information, which negatively impacts their ability to make and implement decisions.
For these people to come back down into the effective range of communication, they need to not talk over people. They also should try to focus on seeking information and insights from others in the appropriate amounts. When people are below the effective range of decision making but above the effective range of communication, they are caught in analysis paralysis. To avoid this situation, they should focus on making timely decisions based off the feedback they received.
Ultimately, everyone has the ability to communicate more effectively. People benefit from knowing why they struggle with listening and what causes them to check out. If people work to improve their listening skills, aim to be open minded, active listeners while also providing and receiving relevant amounts of information and responding successfully to conflict situations, they will be much more effective in communicating. This will help people be more successful, more impactful, heighten respect, and increase personal gratification.
Curtis Sprouse is the CEO of EurekaConnect. EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics © (ECBD) is an approach that involves the assessment of an individual, team, or organization, via validated tests, to define 17 behavior traits, both genetic and learned, as well as 14 behavioral models. Find out more at www.eurekaconnect.com
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