This morning I met a friend of mine (who is also a previous boss of mine) for coffee. Some of the interests we share (besides running an IT company) are movies, theories, and spiritual beliefs. I’m really grateful that we are able to talk at the depth with each other that we do because I know this is a miracle for both of us. Trusting is probrably not one of the highest personality traits for either of us. And that’s okay, we trust each other. What I was reminded of as my friend and I talked about relationships and communication was to remember that when communicating with another person it is helpful to be more concerned with listening (and therefore aware of how we hear) than to be sure that we are heard.
Basic 101 of communication between humans I realize and I can’t be reminded enough of this. A wonderful and wise Coach once taught me to pay attention also to how someone is processing what I am saying. Very helpful for me since I’ve spent most of my life running pel mel into the outer regions of the universe (when I get going!) and splintering off into many directions when I talk and create. For the longest time I didn’t know that many people do not process like I do.
Take my husband for instance (please, don’t! :D) he is a web designer and gifted at being able to read the directions and actually follow them. It has taken all of our sixteen years together for me to appreciate that he hears what I am saying, and then he takes it in (like crusty the crab retrieving food from the ocean floor and scrambling back into his shell) and then he “mulls” over it for awhile before he responds. This used to drive me crazy because I thought he was ignoring me and definitely believed that he wasn’t hearing me. We did reach some compromise early that he would tell me he was thinking about things and I would give him the space he needed to do that.
When I think about all I have learned just in this marriage about communicating and the differences between the two of us inspite of our love for each other it gives me a new way of looking at the difficulties for groups of people to learn how to communicate and to be heard. How in the world can a business possibly be able to succeed and thrive if the people within it from the top down, don’t know how to communicate with each other? On the other hand, if a business has good communication skills in place–there is no limit to what they can achieve together as one. Truly.
Today one step that we can each take towards communicating effectively is to really listen to the people that we are in conversation with to hear what they are really saying. It is important to pay attention to the words they use as well as their non-verbal communication (their eyes, how they use their hands, how they use their body). And it is very powerful to check out with someone if you understood what they just said to you. Doesn’t it make you feel good when you really know that someone really heard and understood you?
Pay attention to your own agendas when you’re talking with people so that you can listen fully. I believe if we listen with an open heart we will be more able to have an open mind for opinions and ideas that we may not have been able to consider previously. This doesn’t mean, of course, that if you have strict moral values about a specific issue that because you have an open heart and an open mind that you are going to change your values, but I do believe that it gives us a better opportunity to be more loving inspite of the ideals and values that we hold.
Let me “hear” from you…..I’m listening!