Today I have decided to address one of the most important presuppositions in NLP; “The meaning of communication is the response you get.” What does this really mean?
It indicates that the meaning of a piece of communication is not in what you say but rather in what the recipient of your message has understood by it. So if you say something to your colleague, boss, friend, spouse or children and they take it to mean something else, the onus is on you, not them, to clarify it.
Communication is a two-way street. Unfortunately most people treat it as a one-way. This creates misunderstandings and discontent, which does not help the situation.
It is a back and forth process before some level of accuracy is achieved. How many of us stop to consider how our message would sound to the person at the receiving end. More often than not we react by spouting what we feel about a given situation.
In most cases people focus only on what they want to say as a result of their thoughts, which are triggered by the matter at hand. It is an automatic response; so finely tuned that we start rehearsing what we are going to say even while the other person is talking. And wham we put our foot in our mouth because we were not listening to the other side in the first place.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in a team at work. Miscommunication is the bane of team dynamics, which poses all kinds of problems and prevents us from achieving results. Diversity is not just limited to working with different cultures; it is also about considering different perspectives.
Successful team dynamics requires a willingness to really listen before responding (not reacting) in any given situation. This is especially so when generating new ideas or trying to solve problems.
Being in a team gives rise to a variety of concerns for individual members. Are they able to get along with others? How are they expected to handle disagreements? Most of all they have a desire to be heard and valued as a member of the team.
Open and clear communication is the key to great group dynamics. If the team is able to establish a common language from the start there is no challenge they cannot handle. When members feel that the team genuinely hears what they have to contribute they feel that they belong.
Some ideas that will take you on the path to being a better communicator;
- Respond instead of react
- Take some time to gather your thoughts
- If you feel a block or negative thought, explore what is behind that feeling
- Put yourself in the position of the recipient of your communication
- Reflect on how you would view your own message
- Speak the truth but do it in a kind manner
- Address the matter at hand rather than get personal
Responding instead of reacting is perhaps the most powerful tool you can fall back on in any situation. There is a vast difference in the way involved parties feel when communication is practised this way.
Reacting feels defensive, uncomfortable, needing to explain too much and weak. When we react we operate from our emotions. Where responding feels calmer and more empowering. It also comes from a place of reasoning, logic and intention of seeking results.
Team work in the workplace is always a challenge but it need not be a minefield if it is given some thought at the outset and practices are put in place.
So the next time you are in a situation which calls for any form of communication, take a deep breath and check if you are going to react or respond. Examine to see if the recipient of your communication will get its meaning; if not completely at least most of it so that you can work on getting the rest across.
Sylvia Fernandes is the Founder & CEO of VIA Frontiers established in Sydney in 2002. She is a corporate NLP trainer and consults in creating effective people in the Asia Pacific Region.
She is also the author of Bye Bye Black Cat – Turn Your Luck Around And Realise Opportunities – available now in major bookstores in the ASEAN Region and on all e-platforms. Buy now or go to www.viafrontiers.com or email [email protected] for more information.