As human beings, we receive all types of communications through our own personal filters. Prejudgments, expectations, and built-in defenses can affect how we interpret information and respond. As a result, if we don’t reflect on whether our observations and emotional reactions are based on the correct information, we may make a situation worse. How else do you think a discussion about the type of cheese you want in your salad becomes blown out of proportion?
Building relationships based on clear communication requires the following:
- Accurate Perceptions – Ensure your interpretations of any situation, conversation or written materials is accurate by validating the information and seeking additional clarification before deciding on a course of action.
- Double Check – Paraphrase back what someone tells you so that there is no room for miscommunication, or ask open-ended follow-up questions until you are satisfied with the facts. It may take more time, but you will dramatically increase the reliability and accuracy of the communication exchange.
- React Appropriately – Wait to react until you have all the information possible. Your initial response may be an emotional one. Learn to hold that in check until you really know the full story and whether an emotional response is appropriate!
- Have Faith – Believe that there will be a positive resolution to any communication issue. A forward-thinking, optimistic outlook can help smooth the challenges in interpersonal relationships. Nothing is impossible to fix unless the other party won’t cooperate.
- Deal with It – Learn to address problems directly. Often, the behavior of an individual is the source of the uproar, rather than the situation or information. Address those behaviors directly, and you’ll be well on your way to smoothing out the communication process and establishing a positive resolution.
To be an effective communicator, we must understand how others perceive us, too; they will respond equally to who we are, as well as what we say. Therefore, once we have a clear understanding of our effect on others, we can then refine our ability to establish a positive connection – both verbally and in writing.
By learning to target your communication effectively to enhance or overcome other people’s perceptions, you will find that your interactions become more lively and honest. Understanding yourself is the first step to building any lasting relationship.
Karel Murray is a certified speaking professional, distinguished real estate instructor, author and business specialist who specializes in helping real estate professionals and executives resolve interpersonal conflict and achieve work/life balance.
She will be presenting a class on communication September 28th at DePaul University. More information.