You Can’t Think With Your Tool Belt On® – 05/02/12

artwork toolbelt

Five Communication Barriers That You Can Actively Be Aware of

1. One upmanship
2. Hidden assumptions
3. Making up new meanings
4. Defensiveness
5. Going off course

I have only listed five. I could probably fill an entire book of these.

Stepping back, I am sure that you can discover even more on your own. The point is that as we communicate with others we need to be aware that we each have our own filters, preconceived notions and varying degrees of skill in getting our point across or seeing the point of view of others.

There is a process for this and by being aware you can improve the outcomes of your conversations the same way you improve anything. Find out where you are, plan what the conversation will accomplish, converse, and measure that you are progressing in the intended direction. Take corrective action to get back on course.

I frequently give presentations. When I do I am practicing the same steps that I would in a one-on-one conversation. The specific techniques may differ based on audience size and the degree that I need to listen and understand versus being understood, but you get the picture.

From time to time I have experienced what can be considered “an out of body experience.” I’ve spoken to other presenters who have described this sensation where, mid speech, you find yourself observing yourself as if you had stepped aside and were watching the show. It is fascinating because during these moments, you can be in two places at once. In one place you are presenting and even answering questions, and in another place you are observing and analyzing what is going on and how to improve while even developing new ideas. When I tell my wife about this she looks at me as if I am from Mars, but I assure you that it happens, and not just to me. I suppose that it could be described as thinking on a higher plane.

A precursor to this phenomenon is the feeling of “being in the zone.” Things just click, and you don’t have to think about what you are doing because your mind is three steps ahead of your conscious thought, and able to change direction in an instant.

With practice thinking about what is going on in a conversation with another person, I have experienced the same thing although less frequently. I think the substantial difference is the degree of emotion in a one-on-one conversation, where you can be “sucked in” to a conversation that is going off course, rather than resisting the temptation and instead consciously bringing things back on track.

In conversation, some people use clever phrases that they rely on such as “so what you are saying is…” or “tell me why you feel that way.” While those phrases allow them to bring things back on course, even these techniques require that you to think before speaking, or analyze while listening. It is important to be aware of where you are in the conversation and there is a big difference between simply conversing recreationally where you can be much more casual compared to a serious conversation where results need to be achieved and some sort of conscious process should be followed.

What are you doing to move to work of higher value?

© Wayne McKinnon 2012. All rights reserved.

About Wayne McKinnon

Wayne McKinnon works with organizations to change their course of evolutions from extinct to distinct
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