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Workplace Communication Part 5 of 7: Jumping Hurdles

Updated on March 15, 2012
Think calm to communicate.
Think calm to communicate. | Source

Another necessity is learning to recognize and remove barriers, hurdles that must be leaped in order to create and maintain effective conversations.

Pacification. When you try to pacify or placate someone, you are sending a mixed message. You say "It really does matter", and you also say, "It doesn't matter." This inconsistency can cause confusion in the other person and tends to obscure understanding.

Interviewing. Questioning is essential to help us understand other people. It shows we are interested in what other people have to say. However, when you cross over to interviewing others may feel that you are attacking them which in turn may cause defensiveness, thereby ending meaningful conversation.

Advice. Offering advice can create a situation where one person (the receiver of the advice) feels "less than" the person offering the advice. It's best to ask the other person if they'd like your advice or suggestions before giving it.

“Look At Me". No doubt you've had the misfortune to talk to someone whose desire to present himself or herself as special or the most disadvantaged. It's very difficult to have real conversations with such a person, because everything gets turned back to their situation, or their accomplishments, or their health maladies. To cope with this situation you can:

1.Take control of the conversation and gently redirect it.

2.Ensure that you don't get caught up in the "Look At Me" competition. Inevitably, when you try to appear special all you do is appear to be selfish and self-centered.

Jumbled Messages. We often give jumbled information. Communication structured in such a way that another person will have almost no chance of understanding it. For example:

1. Not taking time to clarify and organize thoughts before speaking, then throwing too much at the other person so that he or she misses the point or points.

2. Including irrelevant information at an inconvenient time.

3. Speaking rapidly so the listener cannot pay attention to what you say.

Definitions. Words do not mean the same thing to different people. Any specific word can have a different meaning for one person compared to another.

Here's an example: For you the word "dog" has a very positive meaning, since you had dogs all through childhood as lovely companions. The person with whom you are speaking was bitten by a large dog when he was a child, and has developed a negative response to dogs.

Intentions. Well-meaning comments may inadvertently cause hurt feelings. When we are trying to persuade, our focus is not the other person; it's on our point and them getting it. We may unintentionally ignore their perspective entirely and in doing so you can create an environment for conflict or hurt feelings.

For example, "inappropriate reassurance". Let's say you have a friend who is upset about being dumped. He/she talks to you about how painful it is, and you say: "You'll find someone else;” which is probably true, but that does not validate your friends’ feelings right now.

Timing is everything. We tend to forget this and focus on what we want to say instead of when we should say it. It's always good to ask -- "I'd like to talk to you about [topic]. Is it a good time now?" It may be that you have a perfectly phrased message with meaningful content but it is rejected or ignored because the recipient is not in the right state of mind for what you are trying to say.

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