Peter Drucker’ shared “The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said”. It made me stop and think about what we think we hear and what we miss that was not spoken.
Read Body Language
Try this next time you interact with someone face-to-face or virtual video meeting: watch their eye movement, look at their body position and see if their face changes to convey a different meaning then the choice of words they are using. There are times when you just do not understand where the other person is coming from. You seem to get along, feel like you are on the same page and walk away thinking it was a good conversation. Little do you realize, when you continue the dialogue, you feel like you really missed something. Does this ever happen to you?
Besides observing the other person closer and effectively listening with your full attention and you can ask more questions to fully understand what you heard. By the way, multi-tasking on your phone is NOT listening!. This can be painful at times, however, how else can you be certain you heard everything that was not said? Just put the phone and focus on the person speaking.
Repeating back in our own words to show you understand or not understand is another way to hear what is not being said. Have you heard someone say, “well what I really meant to say” and some will just blurt it out “I was actually just being polite, but now that you asked.” STOP. Go back a read that blurt out again. Sometimes it takes three to five “poking questions” to get to the root of what is not being said. I do not think I have made it to questions six yet and usually have it on the second or third question.
Hello, How Are you?
Ask someone how they are doing and they reply good, fine, steady as she goes or fantastic. Besides the politeness of the greeting, when you do want to know, ask another question. You can say that is great you are having a good day and ask why you are having a good day? Watch their reaction because some will not even realize what they replied! So that brings back to what are people not saying? I admit sometimes telemarketers’ approach makes me answer with “having a horrible day” to see if they can venture off the script. You guessed it, virtually all of them will just continue and I will stop them and say “Did you hear what I said?” Their autopilot reply: “You said you are having a good day” as they continue the script. In their defense, they cannot see what I am not saying which compliments what I am saying. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine and wanted to share it.
Reading The Room
I recall meeting with an associate who called “out of the blue” to have lunch. We sat down and I asked what news he brought from his end of town and he replied with he had no news. He was bursting to share some news so instead of diving into my stuff, I said glad to have lunch and asked how he was doing in his business. The next words out of his mouth were “Well since you asked, I will share with you I sold my business”. You probably guessed it – that was the whole reason for lunch. So why not just say it!
Sometimes it can be uncomfortable or difficult to share information, feedback and to be open with our feelings and emotions. Read the room and help others to communicate what they really want to communicate. When my emotions start to rise, you will certainly know by my body language. I have coined this emotion “passion” to let the others know it is only because of how much I truly do care.
Skip The Sarcasm & Smiley Faces
Communication is a bit more challenging in virtual appointments, over the phone, and more so with e-mail and texting of course! There is a lot of guessing and missing more of what is not shared over what is being shared. Be clear, concise, avoid negativity and emotions. Remember, e-mail and texts do not have emotions even with emoji’s. I repeat, e-mail and texts do not have emotions. Even the smiley faces and sarcastic remarks with smiley faces might go unnoticed or make the situation worse. What is the person not saying when they do this?
Observe, repeat, ask questions, if applicable, take notes, send minutes of meetings including action items, pick up the phone when an e-mail or text look like they are going the wrong direction. Some communicate straight to the point by sending an e-mail or text with a simple message: “call my cell”. It works, enables better communication, saves time and significantly reduces misunderstanding. I don’t respond and simply call their cell if readily available or reply with “will call you as soon as I can”.
What are you doing to hear what is not being said?