When I proposed to my wife over ten years ago, we were sitting in my car overlooking a Christmas light display; there were no distractions, cell phones, or other people around to take away from the moment or the message.
Fast forward to today and our most meaningful discussions are often over dinner, when we both have a moment to relax and simply enjoy time together with our boys.
What’s the common theme? The most powerful and effective communications occur when there is little to distract our attention and time to absorb the discussion and provide meaningful responses.
With this in mind, take a moment during your next meeting or interaction to notice how others tend to communicate. There are often multiple distractions (smart phones, interruptions) and very little time (another appointment, other priorities), all of which result in brief, one-sided, and often ineffective communications.
We are falling prey to communication deterioration.
Through my years of advising and coaching business owners and executives, I’ve found that there are several distinctions between those who communicate effectively and those who don’t.
Specifically, those that communicate with the greatest impact practice the following:
- They listen before they speak, allowing themselves time to think about their response and its relevance to the discussion.
- They show respect and patience by not talking over others, instead waiting their turn to speak.
- They speak at a reasonable pace, not too fast and not too slow.
- Their attention remains on the conversation at hand, not on an email or text message that just popped up on their phone or computer.
- They position their bodies in a way that reflects their audience, sending the message that they are interested in and engaged in the discussion.
I could go on…
My point is this: we’ve known for years that face-to-face discussions are the most powerful and effective discussions to have, but they aren’t effective if you choose to make the discussion all about you: your priorities, your distractions.
To keep your communication from deteriorating, consistently apply the following to your conversations:
- Maintain focus on the audience or listener.
- Purposefully limit distractions and interruptions.
- Add value to the conversation and the listener.
- Strive to achieve new ideas or solutions that would not have been generated otherwise.
Your time is limited and valuable, and so is that of your audience. Make every discussion meaningful by practicing the methods above and you’ll find you spend less time clarifying and restating your ideas. Rid yourself of communication deterioration, before it’s too late.
© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.