Dan Maxwell
May 14, 2019

Great communication is an art that requires learning how others think.

Image Free Photos Pixabay

We’re not talking an attempt to manipulate the outcome. We simply mean making sure they get what we mean.

Here’s the challenge ….

Communication is an interaction between two people who may have a different set of values, motivations, and desires, shaped by different ways of thinking, relating, and making decisions.

All this – and more – influences what we say, how we say it and why we choose the words we do.  Yes, communication is that complex.

To paraphrase a common quip: what others think they understand by what we said is not always what we mean.

With that much going on in every conversation, how can we “cut through the noise”?

First, let’s remind ourselves, not everyone sees the world the way we do. That may seem like a flash of the obvious; but how often do we forget that on any topic we may have entirely different opinions. That’s OK … if we can leave it at that. But it’s tempting to take it a step further and judge differences. Someone has put it well:

We judge ourselves by our intent; others judge us by our behaviours.

In other words, it’s easy to misinterpret each other!

How can we prevent this?

Consider where others are coming from.

For example, two people are involved in conversation. One is “Analytical” – think accounting; the other “Expressive” – think sales. The Analytical is trying to gather information about a recent sale. The Expressive is recounting the story of their great close! As the interaction continues, the Analytical becomes more pointed and cynical; the Expressive becomes more superficial – and loud.

What would happen if they paused … and considered where the other is coming from?

Analyticals care about specifics – numbers that feed the bonus structure. The Expressive would do well to consider that this impacts others in the company – and their own commission cheques. So, they could pay more attention to what the Analytical needs to know.

Expressives are great at creating buy-in and going for the close. This makes the business succeed and pays the Analytical’s salary. The Analytical could “suffer” a story or two while they wait for numbers to come out. Better yet, they could take a moment to explain how it works and the difference it makes to everyone in the office.

Imagine the difference in communication where there was less judgement and more understanding.

Bottom line: if we don’t make the effort to consider how another person thinks, and automatically dismiss their ideas, we miss out on the benefit of the other’s input.

If you looking for tools to improve lines of communication, consider these practical sessions for