However, people come into a conversation with their own preconceived ideas and perhaps even their own thoughts about what the other person is going to say. And too often we spend more time considering what we are going to say next than really listening.
This is a barrier to being effective in the workplace as it is imperative that you understand what people are telling you, and that they, in turn, truly understand what you are saying.
Imagine the repercussions of talking to a customer and not correctly understanding their needs. Or, imagine what would happen if a customer did not listen to you saying that you could not deliver something in the way they expected. Either of these situations could result in a significant revenue and reputation loss – for any size company. Thus, whenever you communicate with anyone in the workplace it is vital that you are certain that they understand what it is you are saying, and that you truly understand what they are saying. This is particularly important in addressing any type of conflict or disagreement.
One good way to ensure that both parties understand the other person’s point of view is to ask questions; if you are unsure whether you understand the other person, ask to clarify. Be specific, asking questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” is most likely to be helpful. For example, you might ask, “So, the deadline is somewhat flexible, but not by more than a month at maximum, correct?”
Also, you can ask questions if you are concerned that the other person is not understanding what you are trying to communicate. Phrase your questions so as not to be insulting, but to ensure clarity and invite input – such as, “Does every step of this project that I have outlined make sense to you, if not what have I missed?” and “Can you think of any concerns with what I just said?”
Rephrase and Clarify
Another way to ensure that you and another person are actually having the same conversation is to rephrase and clarify. This can happen two ways. If you are concerned that the other person may not be understanding what you are saying then use a little tip that public speakers often use: Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them.
What this means is that a great way to ensure accurate communications is not just to be repetitive, but rather to be clear. For example, you might say, “I’d like to talk to you about the importance of meeting our January 4th deadline. We need to have this done by January 4th because of this and that. So, do you see any reason that we won’t make the January 4th deadline?”
You can also use rephrasing and clarifying to ensure that you have understood what someone is telling you. In short, you simply restate what you heard, something like this: “So, you are saying that it is imperative that we have this done by January 4th because if we are late then phase 2 won’t begin on time and the entire project will be in jeopardy.”
Whenever you have an important work conversation, be sure that you truly listen to the person you are speaking to. Do not assume that you are being “heard” as you intend. Use questions and rephrasing to clarify.
- Reducing Workplace Conflict: Employee Training
- Conflict Resolution Strategies: Change Perspective
- Communication Tip: Be Civil
- Communication Tip: Email, IM, text
- Communication Tip: Email
- Conflict Resolution Strategies: Avoid the Word “Why”