A Shortcut to Meaningful Communication

Whenever I work with organizations on improving Employee Engagement we first explore what they think is behind the problem. High on the list, without exception, is communication. The staff wants me to “fix” the leadership team and the leaders want me to fix the staff.

The 11th Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary defines communicate as follows:    communicate . v. 1. Share or exchange information or ideas à convey (an emotion or feeling) in a non-verbal way

For the most part, we pay significant attention to the “share” part of the definition and completely disregard “exchange” and “convey (an emotion or feeling) in a non-verbal way”.

We do love the sound of our own voices, don’t we?

Here is your three-part shortcut to meaningful communication:

Step 1: Ask a question

Step 2: Listen (convey your interest by doing nothing else)

Step 3: Ask more questions based on what you heard during Step 2 (exchange).

A conversation is similar to a tennis match. You cannot anticipate what’s coming because you simply don’t know. You can only wait with curiosity and react to what’s served up. If you’re too deeply thinking about how you’re going to react to a serve or volley that hasn’t happened yet, then you’re likely to miss the ball altogether. Game, set and match.

You will undoubtedly have a conversation very soon after reading this. Try the formula above and consider whether the conversation was more meaningful than usual, i.e., more in-depth.

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