A text message conversation:
MOM: “Hey Son, What does IDK, LY, TTYL, mean?”
SON: “I don’t know. Love you. Talk to you later.”
MOM: “OK, I will ask your sister then.”
That little mis-communication was funny. The Son was actually answering his Moms question, his Mom just didn’t realize it. Not all mis-communications in life are as funny though, in fact they can be pretty frustrating sometimes.
How about in your life, have you experienced mis-communications?
Have you asked someone to do something, gave them fantastic instructions - and then they went and did it wrong? How rude, werent they listening to you?
Or explained how to do something to someone else in the clearest possible way - and they just didn’t get it? Are they dumb or something?
Or asked someone to do a simple task for you - and they didn’t do anything? Are they ignoring you?
I’m sure you’ve all met people like this, people that dont listen to you, people you just can’t get through to. Well, maybe they are listening to you - maybe you’re saying it wrong!
Statistics show that 85% of success in life is because of communication. There is also a saying - “Leadership is communication.
“TALK” is 4 simple ideas to help you communicate better.
“T” is for Them.
Dale Carnegie wrote a brilliant book many years ago that I highly recommend reading called “How to win friends and influence people.” If I was to summarize the whole 300 page book into one sentence, it would be this - at the end of the day people think the the most important person in communication is themselves. Your message has to realize this. The “T” in TALK for for “them.” You have to make your communication about them, about the other person.
Why is what you are saying important to the other person? If you can convey this in your message you will have their attention. If you want to get someone to do something, give them a “WIIFM” - What Is It For Me. If a person can understand what the benefit is to them is they are far more likely to pay attention and take action.
If you want to build rapport with someone, you need to find things you both have in common. Connections that you and they both have. People like people like themselves. Help the other person realize the similarities you both have. A great way to find out what you have in common is to ask them questions about “F.O.R.D.” This is short for “Family”, “Occupation”, “Recreation” and “Dreams”. Do you have kids? What do you do for work? What do you like to do outside of work? What would you do if you won the lottery? If you can find connections people are much more likely to like you. And if they like you you are more likely to get them to listen to you.
A persons name is the most beautiful sound in the world to them. Use peoples names. Try and use it 3 times in the first three sentences after you are first introduced to someone new. This will help you remember their name. Then use it throughout the conversation. It will make them feel special and listen.
“A” is for Adapt.
Every person has a dominant communication style. If you really want someone to get your message you need to give it to them in the way they will understand it best. The “A” in TALK for for “adapt.” If you don’t use that persons dominant communication style you are not giving them the message in a way they can comprehend. This is probably the biggest single reason for people not getting the message. If you really want people to listen to you, you need to say it in a way they will understand. There are many ways of classifying communications style, I’m going to share two basic communication styles and how you can use them to get through to someone.
Direct vs Indirect
The first basic style is “direct” and “indirect.” We all pretty much fall into one of these two styles.
People who are direct communicators get straight to the point. They like opinions to be stated with conviction, they like telling people what to do, they like telling people why their own ideas are good, they use words like “should” and “have to.” They don’t like small talk. They can’t read between the lines.
The opposite of the direct communicator is the “Indirect” communicator. They expect people to read between the lines. They like to observe, they offer suggestions for consideration, they like others to take part in the conversation, they use words like “maybe” or “possibly.”
If you are dealing with a direct communicator you should tell it to them straight, you shouldn’t beat around the bush, don’t sugarcoat it. Persuade them, convince them. Order them, act decisively. A direct communicator won’t understand an indirect message because they can’t read between the lines. They won’t get the point. They won’t hear the message. There are too many words, too much waffling. Just tell me what you mean already!!
An indirect communicator will interpret a direct message as being rude and abrupt. It is going to make them feel uncomfortable, it’s not going to help them be able to get what you are trying to tell them. If you want to get through to an indirect communicator, let them read between the lines, give them non-verbal clues. Observe and wait. Ask and listen.
Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
People typically think, communicate and learn best using either pictures, words, or feelings.
People who work with pictures best are visual communicators, people who work best with words are auditory communicators and people who work best with feelings are kinesthetic communicators. We all need a combination of these methods but one normally sticks out. If you can identify which one a person prefers, your chances of getting your message across are greatly increased.
If someone communicates best with pictures they are a visual communicator. They say things like “I can see what you are saying”, they remember images and charts easiest, they will like art and moves and are probably neat and clean. If they are trying to explain something to you they will probably draw a picture or a diagram. To get through to a visual communicator - draw them a picture. Use a whiteboard, a piece of paper.
A person who communicate best via words is an “Auditory” communicator. They say things like “loud and clear”, they remember what people say, they note carefully what they have heard, they love music and radio, verbal instructions make the most sense to them. If they are trying to tell you something they will likely write a very long, detailed, document for you. To get through to an auditory communicator tell it to them, write it down.
Lastly, people who communicate best with feeling are “Kinesthetic” communicators. They say things like “I feel”, they like doing physical things, working with their hands, they fidget, they like physical encouragement (for example pats on the back), they frequently use gestures when communicating themselves. If they are trying to get through to you they may demonstrate it for you. To get through to a kinesthetic communicator, get them to actually do it. Explain it, show them, but then get them to do it while you are there. Thats how you will really get through to someone like this.
I’ve shared some of the basic communication styles with you. When you are dealing with someone tomorrow who isn’t listening to you ask yourself - do they respond better when ordered or asked? Are they direct or indirect communicators?
When they respond to you are they saying “I can see what you are saying” - in which case they want to be communicated with visually.
Are they saying “thats sounds good” - in which case they are auditory communicators and want to be communicated in an auditory way with words.
Are they saying “I feel” - in which case they are kinesthetic communicators and best get the message when they are actually doing it themselves.
Something else to watch for is “internal” and “external” processors. Internal processors need to know exactly what they are going to say before opening their mouth. You will notice pauses and periods of silence with an internal processor. External processors on the other hand need to be talking in order to think. When dealing with internal processors, externals will want to fill in the silences - don’t do this - give the internal processor time to think.
“L” is for Listen.
“T” and “A” are all about you getting your message across to the other person. That is only half of a conversation though. The “L” in TALK is for “listen”. Practice active listening. Really listen, don't just be waiting for your turn to speak. Listening has a few benefits, first you will get an idea of whether or not the other person is really understanding what you are trying to tell them. With this feedback you can tweak your message if needs be. The second benefit goes back to “T”. If you practice active listening people will feel as if you really care about them and what they are saying.
Some ways you can practice active listening are:
Eliminate any distractions. Close the lid on your laptop, put away your phone, turn off the TV or radio.
Maintain eye contact with the other person and face them if possible. Lean forward slightly too.
Focus solely on what the other person is saying. Quiet your mind of things you think you must tell them. Let the conversation flow.
Try not to make assumptions about what the speaker is thinking. Wait until the speaker is finished before deciding whether you agree or not.
Give clues that you are following what they are saying. Murmur (“uh-huh” and “um-hmm”) and nod. Raise your eyebrows. Say words such as “really” and “interesting.”
“K” is for Kind.
People react to the way you treat them. If you are mean and nasty in your communication you won’t get a good response. It doesn’t matter if you are right and they are wrong, you won’t get a good response. If you have to share some criticism or if you have to tell someone they are wrong - do it nicely. The “K” in TALK is for “kind.” Give criticism nicely. Certainly tell people when they have room for improvement - but don’t be mean as you are doing it. You could say “you sucked when you did that” or you could say “to make your next try even better try doing this.” Which one will be better received? Which one do you think is more likely to encourage them to try your advise?
Use phrases like “we”, “us” and “our.” Make them feel that you are together, not opponents.
In your discussions seek win-win (assertive) over win-lose (aggressive) or lose-win (passive).
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