LISTENING : AN IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION ESSENTIAL

Effective interpersonal communication requires active interchange of verbal messages and non-verbal cues between the people involved. Imagine a classroom situation where the teacher is teaching but the students have put their heads down and are in no mood to listen to what is being taught. This is an example of ineffective communication even though the teacher is playing her part well. In this case, effective communication happens when the students sit up straight and listen to what the teacher is teaching, some keep nodding their heads as a gesture of understanding and some raise their hands to get their doubts clarified or to answer the questions asked by the teacher. Hence, decent verbal expression skills by one party and focused listening by the other, renders communication effective.

The golden rule is: Don’t just hear, LISTEN. Surface hearing results in unclear understanding and the consequence is – miscommunication, which may lead to a lot of chaos and confusion.

 There was this lady at the Confectioner’s who had to order her supplies for the next day from a new shop as her regular supplier was out of town. She called up the new shop late at night and ordered for ‘12 dozen eggs’. The consignment was to be delivered at her doorstep within an hour before the shop closed for the day. The doorbell rang in 45 minutes and there was this guy from the shop handing over ‘12 eggs’ to her!!! Imagine the lady’s bewilderment! On enquiry it turned out that the person who had picked up the phone had heard it wrongly, hence the miscommunication.

Well, this incident may bring a smile to our lips. But, there are other instances where careless listening results in disasters. Just think if a pilot hears a ‘NO’ when he asks the ground crew for landing permission, as ‘YES’ and steers the aircraft to descend, what would happen?

Listening is an art. Patient listening is a virtue.

Attentive listening is one of the important ‘communication essentials’!

COMMUNICATION: MISS OR HIT

(Picture Source: www.ondeck.com)

Communication refers to the transfer of information from one person to another. A consistent mode of communication results in progressive interaction between one and more than one groups or individuals. Interactions lead to building up of a connection which grows strong with facilitation. This gives rise to relationships that can stand the test of time. But we have heard of broken trusts, broken contacts and broken hearts, most of which have their source ion miscommunication.

Miscommunication is defined to be a “failure to communicate” adequately. Yes, communication too demands to be adequate.

We gather information related to various fields as we need to meet our diverse needs. The language in which we communicate is different regarding different topics. The terminologies, sentence construction, intonations in speech are differentiated. Dialect varies from person to person. The dialect of every individual refers to as idiolect. Our idiolects express our uniqueness and sociolects express the cultures we come from. But we need to be aware of the certain terms and phrases while maintaining formal and informal discourse. Failure to do so results in miscommunication.

Miscommunication in Formal Discourse occurs because of innumerable reasons. The major ones are stated briefly. In Misplaced vocabulary one confuses one word with the other and uses wrong words while communicating. If a speaker uses words not understood by the audience, he fails to communicate adequately. Disorganized thinking too, results in miscommunication. A person should know what his listeners would comprehend; therefore, organized speech should come into his view. In formal discourse spontaneous speaking should be avoided, rather one should think before delivering. Use of colloquialism, assumptions, and stereotypes should be avoided in formal discourse.

Miscommunication in Informal discourse refers to the ones in marriage, relationships and friendships. There are times when your friend or partner behaves in a different way than they used to previously. It’s time to look for the deeper meaning behind their behaviour instead of taking them on a face value. You can take cues from the mega article of this week while communicating to people close to you. Accusing your spouse for their flaws also is a form of miscommunication. We all have grey areas; therefore pulling down someone should not be our cup of tea. Ego-centrism acts as a catalyst in generating miscommunication. If you are too full of yourself you will fail to notice the beautiful efforts others do to bring a smile to your face. Moreover, a little love never hurt anyone as it conquers all. Therefore, lace your words with love each time you want to convey your thoughts.

COMMUNICATION ESSENTIALS

Human beings are blessed with an ability to communicate in languages that other animals lack, yet we land up in a million instances of misunderstanding and miscommunication in our daily lives. Why does that happen even if two people talk in the same language? Very simply because the interpretation of the words could be different for different people!

Interpretation of language is different based on different cultures. I get reminded of one instance in my life when I was in the US working for a US MNC. The American guy who was my lead would always say, “We can solve this problem in this particular way. Could we try this by the end of this week?” What he meant to ask me was if I could try to solve this problem by end of this week. He was asking me for a commitment. But he never said as “Can you do this?” He would always say, “Could we do this?” This confused me so much initially. I was perplexed as to what he was really asking me to do. Did he expect me to do this work on my own or does he want to do together with me? Only with time I understood what was meant by “We” in his statements.

Interpretation of language also differs when different people talk in different context. For example, one of my cousins would always start a conversation from the middle. Out of the blue she would just say, “You know what happened with that person…” and we are totally lost as to which person and what point of time is she talking about. We used to make a lot of fun of her for this. But then this also used to be serious problem in communicating with her.

I did a short training on leadership at my work and I learnt something very essential to powerful communication. Although, training mostly was given in context professional communication yet these essentials can be applied to all the types of communications.

5 Stages of communication

Following are the stages of a good communication. So, when you talk to somebody keep in mind to follow these stages especially if it is a difficult conversation.

Open

This stage is how you open a conversation. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” “There has been something I wanted to talk to you about” “We need to talk about a few things” “There are some issues that need our attention”. These are the examples of how to open your conversation. The way you open a talk could scare another person or make him/her nervous. So it is very important to keep a good open attitude in your tone.

Clarify

Once you open the conversation, you need to clarify what you need to talk about. Describe what the problem is and why it needs attention. Or explain what your concerns are. Again be extremely open in your attitude so that the other person doesn’t feel cornered or imposed upon.

Develop

This is the stage when the other person starts to share what s/he feels about the situation. It is important to ask open ended questions rather than closed ended questions at this stage. A good example could be “What do you think about this idea?” rather than asking “Do you like this idea?” This is the stage where conversation goes on and on. Also most of the arguments or clarifications happen in this stage. So, it is very important to keep yourself open and inviting in this stage.

Agree

Based on the discussion that happened in previous stage, you come to a certain conclusion. What is the agreement? Do both of you agree with what has been decided? If not, then Develop stage was not done very well. Reach an agreement or a conclusion which makes both of you comfortable.

Close

Finally, close the conversation by thanking the other person and appreciating him/her.

Even if you are talking to your spouse or child, it makes a world of difference if you just keep these 5 stages in mind. Almost every conversation goes through Develop stage, but if Open and Clarify are not done properly, a lot of misunderstandings can crop up in Develop stage and Agree stage might never happen.

5 Pillars of communication

There are also 5 pillars of communication that each one of us should keep in mind to have a healthy communication.

Esteem

Always try to uplift the other person’s esteem. Even if s/he has done something terrible, it is important that the person’s esteem should not go down.

Empathy

This is one pillar that most of us never use. It is very important to step into other person’s shoe and feel what s/he might be going through. Every time you communicate, remember to empathize to gain the confidence of the other person. This would take your conversation to a different level.

Involvement

When talking about issues and problems, ask the person how s/he wants to contribute. Tell him/her that you need help. If esteem and empathy is taken care of, the involvement of the other person should just happen.

Share

Nobody likes to be preached, it really helps if you share your concerns, fears, good/bad experiences along the conversation. Sharing with a clean heart makes the other person feel more comfortable and at ease.

Support

You obviously need to support the other person in every way that you can. Most of us never ask this question to our spouse – “What can I do to support you?” and yet this is the most powerful and giving question of any conversation. It is easy to ask for support but it is important that from time to time we offer our support as well.

Different conversations focus on different pillars. There could be talks which demand a lot of esteem, empathy and support. There could be other talks which could be revolving only around involvement and share. So, it really depends on what is the context of the conversation.

Keep these communication stages and communication pillars in mind always. Together they make the foundation of communication essentials and can take your relationship to an all-new level.

Continue reading “COMMUNICATION ESSENTIALS”

HAUGHTINESS OR HUMILITY – WHAT DO YOUR EYES REFLECT?

OUR EYES SPEAK

It is said that – ‘Eyes are the windows to the soul.’ So very true! Our eyes are one of the means via which we communicate non-verbally. They convey even more than our spoken words. Even when a person doesn’t utter a word, the expressions of his / her eyes speak volumes. Through the gestures of our eyes we communicate and also perceive the intents of the communication we receive from others. Eyes not only collect information from the outer world but also convey feelings and emotions. A gaze or a stare, the amount of eye movement, the dilation or expansion of the pupils are effective ways of conveying and perceiving conveyed information. And so, we have the innocent look, the naughty look, the sad look, the mischievous look, the angry look, the seductive look, the dangerous look and so on.

UNDERSTANDING THE HAUGHTY LOOK

This article deals with the ‘haughty look’. To explain simply, ‘haughty’ means ‘arrogant’ – bragging too much about oneself or showing oneself bigger and better than others. Haughtiness is a negative attribute of the heart. A person who is too proud of his / her intellect, wealth, accomplishments, looks, power, etc. is said to be haughty. A haughty person thinks and acts superior and looks down on others. To give examples – making fun of others and speaking in a cocky way when they are not aware of the new brand of mobiles that have been launched makes me haughty. To show off my accomplishments and boast of my degrees to prove that I’m more learned than others makes me haughty. To constantly boast of my looks and beauty in a way that pushes others to be ashamed of theirs makes me haughty. And yes, to show myself as too righteous and spiritual over and above others also makes me haughty!

When we refer to ‘haughty eyes’, we basically refer to pride in the heart which is conveyed through the gestures of our eyes. And so what we are looking at here is essentially an attitude of arrogance. Arrogance does not indicate confidence, as many may want to believe. Rather it is a reflection of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem deep within the individual.

HOW DOES HAUGHTINESS MANIFEST ITSELF?

When a baby is born, he / she perceives the world to be revolving around himself / herself. This is true to a great extent as everyone is fussy about the infant’s arrival. Infants generally outgrow this trait of egocentrism as they increase in age. However, the continual presence of egocentrism even in the adult years is perceived as haughtiness. Haughtiness is a negative character trait.

A haughty spirit emerges from a deep-rooted desire to cover up our shortcomings, to hide our fears, to protect our weaknesses from coming to the limelight by exalting certain other traits in a greater-than-life manner. A haughty spirit finds manifestation in the way we look at others. Have you ever been in a position where someone looked at you from top to bottom and either turned away their faces or gave a nasty expression? This is the work of haughty eyes. You couldn’t really understand the reason behind it, you thought there was nothing wrong about you and you deserved nothing of the sort. Perhaps you were hurt or you ignored the whole episode or decided to pay back to the person at an appropriate time!

REPLACE YOUR HAUGHTY EYES WITH HUMBLE EYES

Just as we would feel belittled by the haughty looks of others, our haughty eyes also have the potential to rob others of their self-esteem. The Bible tells thus – “Let someone else praise you and not your own mouth; an outsider and not your own lips.” When I praise myself and speak too highly of myself, I prepare the ground for a haughty spirit which is further manifested in my haughty looks. Haughty eyes are detestable in the sight of God. Our eyes are meant to express love and compassion for others – to build others and not break them.

Humility in spirit leaves no space for haughty eyes. When we accept our weaknesses with humility, we will rejoice over our strengths with the same humility. We all are designed uniquely and blessed differently. And so, it is for us to appreciate the goodness in others and lift them up.

We need not be like the egocentric infant, wanting to gloss over our own selves all the time. Let our eyes speak the language of a heart that overflows with humility. Eyes loaded with humility have a strange magnetic power in them which attract others, whereas haughty eyes repel. Those who humble themselves will find themselves exalted in due time. That’s the secret of success!

Author’s Bio: Rajnandini Sahu has done her Post Graduation in Clinical and Counselling Psychology and is presently working as a Counsellor in a school, apart from pursuing higher studies. She can be contacted at ‘rsahu1023@gmail.com‘.