August 8, 2012

What are you really saying?

When you communicate to someone, do you actually deliver what you intended? Or is the other person left with something else? 

Sorry to say but more often than not, you probably communicate much more than you realise.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, "Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying." 

Our words are only a small part of what we communicate (7%, at most). The brain picks up subtle signals from our tone, timbre, body language and even the energy behind what we say. So while the recipient is hearing your words, they are also getting a bit of your internal dialogue.

Whenever we communicate with someone, we speak words, but communicate worlds. For instance, you could be discussing the slides for an upcoming presentation, but communicate that you are smarter than everyone else present and think you should take the lead role. People might come out of that meeting speaking about how arrogant you were. Where did that come from?

Ever receive a compliment and wonder if they really meant it? That's just an indication that you're hearing what they're not saying. Your conscious and unconscious mind picks up on the signals they are conveying (consciously and unconsciously), resulting in an emotional and mental response to their communication. The truth will out.

With all this unconscious communication flying around, what can you do?

First of all, know that you aren't hiding anything. People will pick up on the background behind what you say, whether you realise it or not. 

Start by managing your own internal dialogue and who you are being for the people you speak to. Notice your opinions and thoughts about the other person, then challenge your own perceptions. There is always another view. 

Consider how they need to hear your communication in a way that will deliver the best response. 

It's part of building up emotional intelligence and regulation and a good place to begin to improve relationships.

Remember, communication begins with who you are being and your worldview. Manage those two foundations and the rest will flow from there.