Do you remember a situation in which you wanted to be HEARD, meaning also to be understood, and you had the feeling that the person you were talking to did not hear you at all, despite nodding their head or making casual, fragmented statements. How did you feel then?
One of the preconditions for safe and effective communication is the ability to listen and unfortunately, most people have a big problem with this aspect. People tend to let something in with one ear and let it out with the other, deal with several things at once when someone is talking, mindlessly nodding, pausing, flooding the interlocutor with their opinions, giving unwanted advice or belittling their words.
The Magic Potion of Understanding
Mix three ingredients:
UNDERSTANDING + RESPECT + ADAPTING to have a conversation that leads to a real understanding.
UNDERSTANDING – the basic ingredient.
Apply understanding in place of judgement! Mirror the interlocutor’s words.
People have a tendency to interpret an interlocutor’s words before they can fully understand them, often interrupting and adding their own statements. Try to understand the interlocutor better and show them that you put a lot of effort into understanding them.
Check if you understand what the interlocutor is saying by EXACTLY mirroring the content to avoid distorting the interlocutor’s speech as much as possible. You can also try to mirror the body language, energy levels as well as the manner of expression (vocabulary, metaphors).
SAY: “Allow me understand you.”
OR: “Allow me to understand the reasoning behind your decision?”
OR: “Can you tell me more about this because I would like to understand you better.”
LISTEN SILENTLY, DO NOT INTERRUPT THE SPEAKER.
MAKE SURE: “Did I understand correctly that + <REPEAT EXACTLY WHAT YOU HEARD>“
ASK ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: “Is there anything else you want to tell me about this?”; “Anything else?”
MAKE SURE: “If I understood correctly, then…”; “Let me know if I missed something?”; Do you feel heard by me?
Employee: “I would like to change the department because I feel that I am not growing here. Growth is very important to me, and when I do not achieve it, I feel that I am losing motivation and my commitment to work decreases. ”
Incorrect response from the boss: “You are complaining again that something is not right for you in the department. As soon as you come in, I already know there will be a problem. It’s really not my business that you keep seeing only bad things and that you are not able to motivate yourself.”
The boss interrupts the employee, does not allow her to speak, perceives her words as a form of an attack, a complaint or an additional, unnecessary problem.
The correct reaction of the boss would be: “Did I understand correctly that you would like to change the department because you feel that you are not growing in your current department and that you are losing motivation, while your commitment drops?”;
Then the boss asks the employee to say more so that he can understand her better. He asks questions and sums up the conversation. Then the boss expresses his opinion and the employee hears it in a similar way. They keep talking this way until they both feel understood and I ready to find a solution that works best for both parties.
RESPECT – add a large handful of this ingredient!
Replace proving with respect show to the recipient’s point of view. Even if you don’t agree!
Show respect to the person you are talking to, even if you don’t agree with them. Your goal is not to prove who is right, but to reassure them that you are giving them the right to have their own opinion and the way of approaching the world.
Show that you are trying to imagine what the person might be feeling.
“I see your point.”
“I can see why you feel and think that way.”
“I can imagine how hard it is for you and given the situation, you have the right to feel this way.”
The boss talks to the employee who wants to change the department because she is not growing there and her commitment is decreasing.
”Taking into account the fact that you have fulfilled your duties for so long and have not undergone any training or received promotion for a long time, you really have the right to feel that you are not growing. I know how important it is so I cannot be surprised your commitment is dropping. I am trying to imagine how you could be feeling right now. “
ADAPTATION – remember that the potion is much weaker without this ingredient!
Turn expectations into adaptation! Communicate with the language of your interlocutor.
When trying to communicate with someone, people tend to have a lot of expectations towards the other person, e.g. they want them to “understand their point of view without even speaking” or to guess their thoughts and speak their language when communicating.
Knowing other people’s behavioural and communication style, it will be easier to communicate with them and speak in a way that will be understandable to them.
Read more about DISC behaviour styles below and see how you can communicate with people even better.
How to recognize people with particular DISC behaviour styles and how to improve communication with them?
How to know if someone represents Style D?
They use phrases and words such as: bottom line, goals, solutions, challenges, “let’s do it!”
They speak dynamically, walk fast, use strong gestures to emphasise focus on solutions and goals
They like specifics and straightforwardness; they interrupt people who change the subject or focus on the details too much
THEY OFTEN ASK THE QUESTION: WHAT?
Example: “What is the solution?”; “What is the bottom line”?
Three tips on how to improve communication with D-style people:
Talk about the possible solutions and not just about problems; don’t complain and whine
Speak directly, don’t beat around the bush, don’t talk about someone behind their back
Talk about facts and focus on the point, don’t overwhelm your speaker with details
Written communication: use short sentences and point out the key aspects
How to know if someone represents Style I?
They speak quickly, make rapid gestures, joke and have a big smile
They start a conversation and display enthusiasm and optimism
They listen less, they prefer to speak and they also interrupt others
THEY OFTEN ASK THE QUESTION: WHO?
Example: “Who will be taking part in this project?”; ‘Who will be in charge of our department?”
Three tips on how to improve communication with I-style people:
Appreciate them for their enthusiasm, ideas and effort; praise their appearance or the appearance of their office (remember to be honest – people with style I in the DISC model will easily sense if someone is lying)
Do not overwhelm them with details and procedures
Show that you are interested, ask how they are, smile and be enthusiastic; give them space to talk
written communication: write short and in a friendly way; if possible try to use verbal communication as people of style I are very relational
How to know if someone represents Style S?
This person is often withdrawn, does not stand out or speak up when not asked, lets others speak and prefers to be a listener
They show little emotion, are calm, smile gently and their body language is reserved
They speak calmly and slowly, they do not impose their opinion, they ask questions to obtain an opinion of others
Three tips on how to improve communication with S-style people:
Don’t put pressure on this person, give them time to think and make sure you listen to them fully
Do not raise your voice, be careful not to be too intense and overwhelm them with your communication
Ask questions, otherwise you may not find out about their opinion on something
Written communication: write in a friendly way and indicate specific steps in a given process; if possible try to be kind in verbal communication because S-style people are relational
THEY OFTEN ASK THE QUESTION: HOW?
Example: “How do you want me to do it?”; “How are we going to do it?”
How to know if someone represents Style C?
They speak precisely and rely on facts and statistics
They focus on details, they want to explain the issue and their point of view thoroughly
They do not use extensive facial expressions or gestures, they speak slowly or at a medium pace, and take breaks
THEY OFTEN ASK THE QUESTION: WHY?
Example: “Why do you want me to do it?”; “Why is it so important?”
Three tips on how to improve communication with C-style people:
Be prepared to talk, don’t try to lie (this person will definitely detect it!)
Verify facts, don’t just refer to opinions, don’t be too emotional
Be precise when talking, indicate how the quality of the project/profit/service can be improved, etc.
Written communication: explain everything in detail, provide sources, details and dates; C style people simply love written communication!
Mindfulness above all!
Start listening not only with your ears but also with your heart, while staying grounded and looking after the signals your body sends you.
LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART AND MIND
Try to understand what the other person is feeling, how they are thinking, and why a situation or someone made the speaker feel this particular way. Notice emotions such as enthusiasm, disappointment, frustration, anger, shame, joy, sadness, etc. Try to “access” the other person’s thought process. Do not acquire the emotions of the interlocutor – notice, understand and show empathy.
Pay attention to what signals your body is sending out, you can subtly try to reflect the posture and energy level of the speaker. Show them respect by adopting a comfortable, stable and relaxed posture. Sit up straight but don’t make yourself too comfortable on a sofa or don’t put your legs on a table. Make sure you keep eye contact.
JUST BE PRESENT…
Try to put aside the urge to respond immediately or suggest a solution. Listen carefully and understand the other person before starting to speak. For a moment, forget about your convictions, emotions, judgements and opinions. Don’t let them have an impact on your understanding of what has been said to you. If you let them take over, you can easily distort the message, meaning add or remove something from it.
Keep in mind that the word ‘communication’ comes from a Latin noun ‘communio’, which means community. The goal of communication is to build understanding together, not to judge or fight!
Start with proper listening, while being respectful, use your heart and mind to fully understand the other person, and adjust your communication style.
If you haven’t read it yet, feel free to also check out articles on dealing with “difficult people” and tips on how to adapt easier to people with different DISC behavioural styles.
Find the key to understanding others!
WE LIKE PEOPLE THAT ARE SIMILAR TO US
Does it happen that you talk to someone and you feel as if you were talking to a wall? You feel that NOBODY understands you, and yet you try so hard to explain what you mean? Or perhaps you just think that some people are strange, while you immediately get along with others and feel the same energy?
Usually, we like people who are similar to us in some way. We often see people who are significantly different from us in terms of behaviour and communication as “difficult”. We cannot find an understanding with them, let alone communicate with them!