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Communication barriers exist all around us. Misinterpretations abound in our discussions with team members. We delete, distort and generalise information in every conversation. And yet we think we clearly understand what others are saying and why they are saying it.
These barriers exist because we put them there. There are many ways we interpret information given to us by others, and these cause us to have a mis-alignment of understanding. How can we reduce the barriers that effectively blind us to meaning and comprehension? Here are seven ways:
1) Understand others see things differently to you. Try to predict the feelings and attitude of the receiver. What will their expectation be? What about their state of mind when you are communicating? What prejudices might they have? If you know these things before communicating, you reduce the risk if misinterpretation.
2) Get feedback from the receiver. Don’t just ask, ‘Do you Understand?’. They will more often than not say ‘yes’ because they see things in the way they want to understand it. Ask instead what is their understanding of the message, and how they see it.
3) As often as possible, speak face-to-face. This will allow for questions and, most importantly, allow you to see the body language, which will convey much more meaning than over the phone or through email.
4) Use language that fits the audience. Don’t try to impress by using language and words that may be distorted by the listener(s). It simply makes them confused and inadequate. Plus, they won’t be listening to you while they try to work out what on earth you are on about.
5) Use the right communication channel. Don’t send an email if it’s quicker to pick up the phone or go and talk to the person. Use email for its proper purpose. We are rapidly losing the art of conversation…don’t add to that by using the wrong channel.
6) Have integrity and honesty in your communications. If you are seen as being someone who lacks integrity, this will immediately be noticed and even more barriers will be built up between you and the listener.
7) Make it easy for others to listen to you. Make your communication style that one of a conversationalist, one who is able to make a point quickly, succinctly and with conviction. If your key message is lost in the morass of a thousand words, people will wonder what you mean and what the purpose is. Clarity and brevity are the watchwords.
Be aware that barriers exist in every contact, and it may not be possible for you to ensure clarity every time, because others will have their own subconscious agenda. By following the above ideas you certainly reduce the risk of barriers interrupting the key messages you want to make.
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Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.