How is it possible for two people to walk away from a conversation with completely different ideas of what was discussed?
We can be speaking the same language, but completely fail to communicate. But what is it that gets in the way? Here are just a few things that can prevent us from feeling as if we are all on the same page:
Personality differences – If you are a lively, exuberant person, being met with a quiet response may seem like indifference, but is it just your colleague’s way of listening attentively? We tend to expect everyone to approach situations in the same way that we would, but remembering that we do not all think or react in the same way could help you to avoid unnecessary obstacles in the road to understanding.
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Culture – Similarly to personality differences, cultural variances in a specific organisation or country may require some additional consideration. Body language or incorrect conversational order could prevent a client from accurately hearing what you have to say, and possibly offend them into the bargain! So swot up! Know the culture of where you are going and avoid embarrassing others and yourself.
Déjà vu – Been in a similar discussion before? You may well have been, possibly over and over. But this is not that same conversation. Shake off any preconceptions you have about what someone is about to say and listen. You might be surprised by what you hear.
Get to the point! – We’ve all tuned out for a moment when we feel like someone is waffling on unnecessarily. Small talk is all well and good in the right situation, but sometimes you need to drill down to the core of what you need to say. Be polite and considerate, but don’t waste words and time and risk losing your audience’s attention.
Distractions – What’s going in the background? Are there noises, TV screens, other conversations going on nearby? Can the other person actually hear what you are saying? All of these distractions, even if they only intrude for the briefest of moments, can lead us to miss the vital point of what someone is saying.
Got out of the wrong side of the bed? – Our mood can colour the way we receive what others are saying. If you start a conversation already feeling tired, impatient or angry, chances are that you could misinterpret what is being said. Try and clear your mind and come to the discussion with an unbiased attitude.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but we don’t want to lose your attention by waffling on……!