Director's Message: 7 keys to eliminating conflict and creating synergy at work
There is a tremendous difference between talking and communicating. Everyone talks, but not all communicate with effectiveness. Communicating with power and influence is a skill that can be learned by anyone.
There is a tremendous difference between talking and communicating. Everyone talks, but not all communicate with effectiveness. Communicating with power and influence is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Those who have learned this skill have used it to their advantage to:
- Further their careers
- Deepen their relationships with family and friends
- Influence others to do things their way
- Successfully market their businesses
We’ve all met people who we felt were effective communicators. Think about some people in your life who were able to connect with others, succinctly and powerfully communicate a message, persuade others to their point of view, or move people to action — presidents, community leaders, a colleague, boss, or perhaps a friend or family member.
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If you don’t feel you are a exceptionally persuasive communicator right now, don’t worry. It is a skill that can be easily learned. Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you will be at it! Just like those in your life who demonstrate effective communication skills.
1. Effective communication means understanding. It means having a connection.
Why is effective communication so powerful? A possible answer to that question could be this quote from Kim Krizan in the movie “Waking Life:”
“Language comes from our desire to move beyond our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. Words by themselves are lifeless, they’re inert. They’re nothing more than symbols. So much of our experience is intangible; so much of what we perceive cannot be adequately expressed. And because of that, when we communicate with one another, and we feel we’ve connected that we’re understood — it’s almost like having a spiritual communion with that person.”
What we all want from one another is to connect. When we connect, we feel a distinct affinity with the person whom we believe truly understands us.
Communication is how your message is delivered and how it is received. It is two-way, involving both the sender and the receiver.
Effective communication involves not only words, but your body language, what “voice” you use, and the art of listening. We will discuss all of these as they are equally beneficial to learning this skill.
2. What sends your message more effectively than the words you speak?
Research shows that:
- The words you use contribute 7% to the effectiveness of your message.
- The quality and tone of your voice make up 38% of the message you are sending.
- Your body posture, facial expressions, and gestures contribute a whopping 55% of the message received.
What you honestly believe is shown more clearly with your body posture, your facial expressions, and your gestures than with your words. In fact, they will trump your words.
If your words say one thing and your posture or gestures say another, your listener will see a disconnect. For example, you will meet someone who is sitting slumped down and unsmiling. You may ask, “How are you?” But you already know the answer to the question, even if they respond with “I’m fine.”
In fact, one look or facial expression can convey more than a whole book of words — a raised eyebrow, a “piercing” glance, a pout, a slow grin, wrinkling your nose!
3. Ways to use non-verbal communication more effectively
- You have to be certain your non-verbal cues match what you are saying. Most of the time this is natural. You smile when you are happy, slump down when you are not. And there may be times when you wish to show a different message than what you are feeling. You may feel nervous, but wish to show confidence. Take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, and raise your head up. Put yourself in the “pose” that means confidence to you. You will feel more confident! Your posture even sends a message to your mind!
- Think about what your body is doing in certain situations. How are you sitting? Does your posture send the message of attentiveness? When talking to someone are you looking at the person you are conversing with? Remember, whatever message your body is sending will trump your words. Is your body telling the other person in this conversation that you aren’t interested, or that you are that you don’t care, or you certainly do? You have the conscious choice to decide what message you want to send, and it starts with your body.
- Nervous habits can send a different message than what you intend. The problem with these habits is most don’t realize they do them. These can include touching your face often, jangling keys or coins in your pockets, use of “word whiskers” like saying “um” in every pause when you speak. Certain habits convey certain meanings and these can be distracting and take away from the effectiveness of your communication. For instance, if your posture is slumped over or if you touch your face, that reflects that you are not confident or approachable and that you are feeling uneasy.
- Practice making appropriate gestures at pivotal points you are trying to make. If you want to ensure your message is understood, use gestures that enhance your message when you speak. Reinforcing your points with appropriate gestures increases the effectiveness of your message.
- Pay attention to your emotions. We all have had times in our lives when our emotions have “gotten the best of us”, and usually not in healthy, productive communication. When emotions take over, they will be what the other person will pay attention to, not what you are saying. Then communication breaks down, and miscommunications happen. If necessary take a few deep breaths, count to 10 (it truly works!), or take a time out if necessary.
How you communicate has a direct impact on your career, your family life and your relationships. In fact, there is nothing in human relations that you do more than communicate.
It’s about connection. We have a need to feel understood by others. We have a need to communicate our hopes, dreams, ideas, desires and needs when necessary. We have a need to be heard.
Next issue: Part two of "7 Keys to Eliminate Conflict and Create Synergy at Work"
Kristine Hodsdon RDH, MSEC
Director, RDH eVillage