Training Your Mind to Effectively Communicate

It can be easy to sit back and just let someone’s words slip past you. We’ve all done it before.

Wife: “Hey honey, I’ve got a really busy afternoon with this Voyer account, so I don’t think I’ll be able to grab groceries before picking up the kids. Do you think you could try to get over there on your way home and grab some things. Can you grab some fresh apple cider too? I want to make some apple cider bread tomorrow.”

Husband#1: Yeah, sure thing. Got it.”

This isn’t the most effective response for showing that you’ve listened. In fact, if this is how you respond to most things people say to you, it’s pretty weak. This isn’t about whether you understand the other person, it’s about effectively showing the other person that you understand. It builds stronger relationships and prevents misunderstandings.

Wife: “Hey honey, I’ve got a really busy afternoon with this Voyer account, so I don’t think I’ll be able to grab groceries before picking up the kids. Do you think you could try to get over there on your way home and grab some things. Can you grab some fresh apple cider too? I want to make some apple cider bread tomorrow.”

Husband#2: Yes I can do that, I know you have been working really hard on that account all month. You get the kids and leave the groceries to me. I’ll grab two gallons, I love your cider bread. Is there anything else you’d like me to make sure and grab?

Obviously this is generic, but you can catch it if you look for it in your daily interactions. This has nothing to do with being a good or bad husband. This is simply communicating to other humans in a manner that shows them you have listened. It can be used in any day to day interaction. It does require practice. This means training yourself to ACTUALLY LISTEN and show that you’ve done so. You don’t want to be sitting there silent while you think, “How can I make it clear that I’ve understood?” – you want that kind of active listening to be a reflex.

One way this can be accomplished is by way of repeating key words. In this hypothetical example, a salesperson and a merchant are ‘communicating’

Merchant: We don’t really have the time for this because we’ve had offers like it before and they didn’t work out. The timing on this project is going to be critical and I can’t have it fail to take off. That kind of thing is bad for the image we’re trying to put out there and following through is a big thing for us.

Salesperson: Well you don’t have to worry about anything like that because if you just look at these numbers I can show you how great of an offer this is for you. You’d be crazy not to jump on it.

Okay… how do you think this Merchant is going to respond? Did the Salesperson actively listen to what was said? Obviously not. He certainly heard what was said, but they failed to give anything more than a rote, generic response that did not address the merchant’s concerns. Such a response shows the merchant that his concerns do not matter, regardless of whether or not the offer’s potential benefits do indeed nullify them. Let’s try effectively communicating by showing we understood. Pick up on, and utilize key words to get more information that will be sure to aid you in avoiding misunderstandings!

Merchant: We don’t really have the time for this because we’ve had offers like it before and they didn’t work out. The timing on this project is going to be critical and I can’t have it fail to take off. That kind of thing is bad for the image we’re trying to put out there and following through is a big thing for us.

Salesperson: When you say ‘we’, does that imply that there is someone else who needs to be present in order for this decision to be made? It seems similar offers were tried in the past and they did not go so well for you, what were these offers? Why is the timing on this project more critical than in the past, have previous offers failed to deliver up to expectations? What kind of image are you trying to give off, and does it have anything to do with being reliable?  Let me show you here why following through is a big thing for us too.

Which salesperson showed they listened better? The answer is clear. Which one is more likely to build better relations with the merchant? No contest. The second salesperson is an effective communicator. The first one is not going to go very far. What did the first one effectively communicate? Basically that everything the merchant said doesn’t matter as much as getting the sale. No investment of mental is being made. That’s not a good message to relay to a potential relation. The second person made it clear that this is important. It was clear they were looking to understand the situation as in depth as possible. They were vested in the success of the project. That’s a great message to relay.

You want to train your mind to move quickly and effectively to communicate that you’ve listened. This means actually listening and actively showing it.  Now remember this takes practice. It’s a skill that you hone each moment that you spend interacting with others, but only if you CHOOSE to hone it. It’s a choice: to lazily let words slide over you and brush the other person off with generic responses, or to expend a little extra mental energy and with time become a truly great listener. Lastly, keep in mind that with great listening comes greater trust from others. Do not abuse this trust. The rat race of modern society is full enough of nefarious scheming individuals out solely for personal gain. Please, don’t waste all your natural human warmth and genuine fraternity to become one of them.

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2 comments

  1. lizziearias · October 15, 2014

    receiving a reply that shows you were heard is gratifying, reassuring and shows willingness to co-operate. I can’t think of a better aid for communication.

    Like

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