Communication

 

 

Communication is one of those words we all know but would struggle to define easily. If asked to define it, a likely answer would be “it depends”. Are we talking about (see what I did there) in a work context where you may be trying to sell a product or calm down an angry customer? Are we talking about a family context where you are trying to explain to a child why they can’t do something? Or to your bank about why they need to extend your overdraft. Or to … Well you get the idea. My father always told me as a youngster that I had two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion. That makes listening a crucial part of this communication thing! How often are you in a heated discussion where someone makes the comment “that’s not what I said!” And often it IS what they said…. But not what they meant…

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There is no simple solution but if you try to be clear and check your words have been understood you won’t go far wrong. But do it in a friendly way rather than shouting “Do you understand me?” as my folks did… And I guess most parents! Listening is a crucial skill and few of us do it well. We are half listening to what is being said because the other half of our brain is working out what we’ll say next or what to cook for dinner. Doing nothing but listening and then responding takes a conversation in a whole new direction. It is slower and it makes the other person feel valued, feel they are “being heard”. If you ever watch BBC Parliament channel you will learn how NOT to communicate as they are the classic example of not listening to the other side. And no matter how thin you slice it, it always has two sides!

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Imagine it is your teenage son or daughter’s birthday and they’ve asked for a voucher for a specific store to buy a specific thing but they want to go with their mates to get it. You’re standing in Eden outside Next/House of Fraser and realise you’re not sure if they said Superdrug or Superdry! As you look frantically between the two stores, you think were they talking about perfume/aftershave or a teeshirt/hoodie? If only you’d been listening properly, eh?