Commentary: Effective communication key to understanding others

Make sure intent doesn’t get lost in translation

During a recent staff meeting, the topic of different communication styles and methods seemed to be a recurring theme.

As a result, it got me thinking about how we communicate and how dependent we have become on various modalities of correspondence. Texting, video calls and even teleworking have drastically evolved the art of communication.

Although we are more connected now than ever, why does it seem like communication can sometimes be such a struggle throughout an organization?

Being overly connected can cause inconsistencies in communication and even unclear and inarticulate messaging, which could quickly deteriorate any form of clear communication between individuals or groups. How do we promote and develop clear and concise communication skills, while still staying connected to those within our organization, in an environment where telework or hybrid schedules have become the norm?

In today’s ever-changing world of digital communication, I believe it is more important than ever to go back to basics and hone in on some simple, yet effective, elements of communication. Active listening fosters healthy interactions.

It enhances one’s ability to process instructions, remember details and provide crucial feedback as an active participant of a conversation. Active listening is also more than just giving the speaker your undivided attention; it is pertinent to showing interest and strengthening conversational engagement.

Active listening can be utilized during various modes of communication and is one of the primary keys to clear and accurate exchanges. All too often, we focus our daily efforts on multitasking and meeting operational deadlines while forgetting how important it is to just listen and be present in the moment.

Others essential forms of communication, aside from verbal, include nonverbal cues such as nodding and making eye contact.

Clarification is also an imperative element. This helps ensure we are understanding the message clearly and concisely.

The most common communication errors — and easiest to fix — are centered on an unclear message. Effective communication involves the ability for all recipients to clarify the message and accurately comprehend the intent.

This is where reflective listening can be pivotal. Reflective listening is the ability to restate what one has heard while assessing any feeling level perceived. It’s as equally important as active listening in communication.

Practicing reflective listening can play a significant role in one’s ability to understand the messages and ideas of others.

There is a common theme in communication – listening. Communication is less about getting your point across and more about learning how to understand others. We all want to be heard, yet we do not always want to listen.

Consider this quote from renowned author and research professor Brené Brown: “Be as passionate about listening as you are about being heard.”

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