The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place. –George Bernard Shaw
Do you remember the last important conversation you had? Do you remember the topic and the main point of the conversation? Do you know for sure that you got the point the other person was try to get across?
If not, it’s possible that you were communicating at the other person, instead of communicating with the other person.
Merriam-Webster’s website defines communication as: the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.
The key word is exchange. The act or process of completing an exchange requires a conscious active effort. This means the participants must be involved and active.
Have you ever been in a situation where you received an assignment from your boss only to realize that when you got back to your desk you felt unclear about the assignment? Or worse, delivered a result and was told that it was not what the boss wanted.
In a recent post fellow coach John Whitehead, noted the importance of active communication by referencing one of Steven Covey’s habits of successful people. As described in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) Covey says, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
John went on to share that Covey, “describes it as ‘the key to effective communication.’ If we want to have any sort of effective communication among ourselves, we first have to understand each other.”
I completely agree with this idea. Understanding is at the heart of communication, communication is at the heart of a good relationship, and a good relationship is at the heart of being effective.
To ensure that we truly understand what the other person is trying to communicate we must practice active communication.
Again referring to the Merriam-Webster site, one definition of active is: engaged in an action or activity <an active club member>
So the next time you are talking to someone important, you may want to make sure that you are an active member of the conversation.
Practice active communication.