Whether you are planning to start your own business, wanting to get into a relationship, preparing for a presentation or speech, or are simply planning to catch-up with your friends or colleagues, communication is the key!
These are some of the common communication barriers that most of us experience in real life.
We may have offended someone because of our communication even if we didn’t mean to, haven’t we?
Who hasn’t left a conversation thinking, “Now that didn’t go as I wanted it to?”
The good news is that you can fix this!
Let us look at how…
Top 5 common mistakes that people make while communicating and also effective ways to overcome them.
- Active listening
Did you know that hearing and listening are two different things? Most of us simply hear instead of listening. Hearing is an involuntary act where one simply receives vibrations of the sounds through ears, while listening is a skill that allows our brain to process the underlying meaning.As its name suggests, active listening involves actively listening. It means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively “hearing” the message of the speaker.
Active listening involves listening with all our senses We not only decode the verbal message but also observe and notice the non-verbal gestures of the communicator.
An active listener appears interested in what the speaker has to say. This allows the speaker to communicate more easily, openly and honestly.
How to develop active listening skills:
In order to be an active listener, you can do the following:
- Pay attention – Set a comfortable tone for yourself and allow time and opportunity for the other person to think and speak. Pay attention to your own frame of mind as well as your body language. Make sure that you haven’t adopted any frame of mind or body language that might disrupt the other person’s communication. Most importantly, be focused on the moment and operate from a place of respect. Withhold judgements – As an active listener, refrain from making judgements Simply accept and acknowledge that others may have different ideas and perspectives.
- Avoid interrupting and imposing solutions – Remember, how as children we were taught that interrupting while someone is talking is rude? It’s true! Because interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says: “I am more important than you are”, “what I have to say is more interesting”, “I don’t really care what you think” etc.If you engage in active listening, the communicator will be more willing to engage in deeper and meaningful conversations with you.
- Poor message delivery
One of the most important things in communication is not what you say, but how you say it. It could be the speed at which you speak, the tone or the pitch which may lead to miscommunication.How to develop effective delivery skills
- Slow down – Some of us have a natural tendency to speak fast. What you can simply do is just start by reading aloud any favourite book or novel. Read it slowly but loudly enough for you to understand what you are reading clearly. Keep an eye on the time. See if you are able to understand what you are reading.
- Let your emotions lead – A monotonous conversation seems to be really boring for your listeners. Let your feelings be reflected in your voice. For instance, if you wish to communicate some good news, don’t speak with a sad and boring tone.
- Body language – Imagine a person standing with folded hands in front of you and sharing some good news. How would that look? Or a person who constantly keeps one hand on his head while talking to you? What impression would gestures like these leave on you?
It is very important to be able to match our non-verbal actions with our verbal communication to avoid giving contradictory information to anyone.You can do this while standing in front of a mirror. You can pretend as if the person, you wish to communicate with is standing in front of you. After this, you can begin by practising your nonverbal behaviours. Or you can simply close your eyes and visualise how you would stand and sit in front of that person to look confident, what body language will give out the impression that you are open and relaxed. Similarly, you can practice for any other state of mind or emotion that you wish to convey. See yourself move and talk like that version of yourself.
- Making assumptions
Have you ever found yourself rolling your eyes at people, thinking, “Oh I don’t even have to hear the rest of this – I already know what they’re going to say!” Assumptions are basically communication shortcuts. There are times when we don’t want to take the time to get the full picture of a situation, or we’re not equipped with the necessary communication tools to do so.
How to avoid assumptions
Just listen- it is important to listen mindfully instead of simply waiting for your turn to speak.
When someone is communicating, take a second to understand their point of view to really listen and consider where they’re coming from. It’s perfectly easy to tune out and assume you know where they’re coming from, but if you make an effort to listen actively you will build a communication bridge.
- Mind Reading
Like assumptions, there is another factor that contributes to miscommunication. Humans are social animals who find it important to navigate through nuanced social interactions. And to accomplish that, we try to read people’s minds. In psychology, mind-reading refers to the act of inferring what is going on in someone’s mind without asking them to clarify. Often it can become an unhealthy and destructive habit in communications because we assume we know what someone is thinking or feeling when we really don’t.
How to avoid a mind read
Acknowledge and understand that the other person has a different perspective and worldview. The interpretations you mentally make about what the other person wants to say may not be necessarily true.
- Untimely questions
During lunch hours, imagine a colleague of yours is excitedly telling you about her trip to Shimla and all the wonderful things she saw there. And while she is saying all this, she mentions that she had a chance to meet a mutual friend. And then you jump in with, “Oh, I haven’t heard from her since ages. How is she?” and just like that, within seconds, the discussion shifts to that mutual friend and her life story, and even before you know it an hour has passed and Shimla remained a distant memory! The kind of questions you ask may often lead people in directions that may have nothing to do with where they (message senders) thought the discussion would be going.
Ways to avoid untimely questions
Once you notice that your question had led the message sender astray, take responsibility for getting the conversation back on track by saying something like, “It was great to hear about her, but I would want to know more about your trip to Shimla”.
The bottom line is, in order to have a healthy way of communicating with someone, it is important to overcome some of these barriers to effective communication.
Did you know that you can take your communication a level higher by being more mindful?
To know more about what mindfulness is and how you can combine this power of mindfulness with communication, stay tuned for my next article.
For now, you can check out our online course on conversational hypnosis. The course focuses on helping you become a great communicator who has the skills to influence people effectively.