By: Clare Evans
For me, communication is important to many things in life. Particularly in the relationships we have with the people around us at work and at home.
How often do we misinterpret what’s been said or done, just because we don’t know how to communicate properly? Making assumptions based on our own, perhaps narrow perspective and not taking into account what other people might be feeling or thinking.
How to communicate is something we learn early on in life and if we don’t know how to do it properly or we get it wrong, it can lead to poor communication throughout the rest of our life. We fall into bad habits, feel uncomfortable having difficult conversations, avoid conflict or arguments and prefer just to keep quiet.
Learning how to talk and how to say what you feel is important in maintaining good relationships, not just in your personal life but with the people you work with. If you can’t tell someone how you feel, how can you expect them to know? None of us are mind readers.
It can seem uncomfortable at first if you’re not used to it and it may not come out quite as you intended. Be genuine you will be able to get the message across, as long as the person is open to what you are saying.
Always be clear in the words that you use, the tone of your voice and your body language. Think about the message you are trying to get across.
In this age of technology, with emails and text messages being used as a regular and accepted means of communication, there is even more chance for confusion and misinterpretation.
You can’t communicate feelings or humour in an email or a text. You need to know someone reasonably well to know whether a comment they’ve made is genuine, sarcastic or insulting. I’ve seen many an email or text discussion being totally misinterpreted because it’s been taken out of context and without the underlying feeling being known.
You can interpret a simple statement in a number of different ways just by changing the emphasis on a particular word. Using a different tone would give it a totally different meaning.
Don’t use email or text for discussions where emotional is an important part of the communication. Pick up the phone or arrange for a face-to-face discussion.
An important part of communication is not only speaking but also listening and listening properly, not just waiting for them to stop speaking so you can jump in. Really listen for what they are saying, forget about how you might be feeling, put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
Whether it’s in a work or personal situation, if you have something important or difficult you want to say then:
– Set aside some time specifically to discuss it, when you’re not going to be distracted or interrupted.
– Explain what you’re feeling and what needs to happen or what you would like to happen.
– Ask for their reaction – how do they feel about what you’ve said.
– Don’t be judgemental – accept what they are thinking and feeling.
– Allow time to adjust. Reacting in the heat of the moment is not always the wisest action.
– Make any serious decisions after you’ve had time to think things through.
Above all be honest. There’s nothing worse then being told what someone thinks they want you to hear and then finding out later they were being less than honest with you or with themselves. Perhaps they didn’t want to hurt your feelings but in the end it doesn’t help either of you.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve understood something correctly – ask. Many misunderstandings arise when people make assumptions about what’s been said or what someone means. Your interpretation of the world around you is different from someone else’s based on your background, views, behaviours, beliefs and values, so what you’re thinking may be different too.
I will always prefer to assume “positive intent” when communicating with someone and I recommend that you do too. On the whole people aren’t out to get you – so allow them to clarify if you think you may have misinterpreted or misunderstood what they’ve said.
Give people the benefit of the doubt and make your communication clear and direct.
Clare writes on several topics to help busy, stressed individuals and small business owners organise their lives more effectively. Register for her monthly newsletter at www.clareevans.co.uk and receive free tips on managing your time.
Even though people in the various generations often don’t agree, there is one thing they all agree on: Respect for each other in the workplace simply doesn’t exist. Those in the older generations (the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers) think the younger workers of today are lazy and disrespectful. On the other hand, the younger generations (Generation X and the Millennials) think the older workers are stuck in their ways and too closed-minded.
Despite these differences, people from the varying generations must work together productively for the company to succeed. If they let their generational outlooks get in the way, conflict will result.
Use the following suggestions to overcome generational differences so everyone can get along:
Know each other’s preferences
In a nutshell, the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face communication. They like consensus, and they expect everyone to respect authority. They don’t like conflict and will avoid it at all costs. Generation X and the Millennials love online meetings. They twitter each other and use e-mail the majority of the time. They’re not afraid to confront others; they want their voices heard. They dislike being on teams and prefer to work alone.
While we can’t automatically assume every single person in a particular generation behaves and thinks a certain way, knowing the generalities is a great first step. Therefore, take the initiative to learn about the other generations you work with. The more you understand their point of view and what events shaped their lives, the more you’ll be able to work with them without conflict.
Spend time with each other
Simply knowing each other’s preferences is one thing; it’s another to actually spend time learning from the person. Remember that learning and mentoring is a two-way street. Just as younger people can learn things from older people, the older generation can definitely learn from the “kids.”
As you do this, realize that you’ll likely have to make compromises. For example, a younger person can teach an older person about some new computer communication tool. The younger person will need to employ patience during the training, and the older person will need to keep an open mind to the new technology. You’ll also have to confront your own personal biases and work through them. Only then can you truly benefit from the interaction.
Be open to talking things out
The older people don’t understand what all the pierced noses and tattoos are about, while the younger people can’t comprehend how someone can be so loyal to a company. Instead of just wondering in silence, it’s time to talk it out – with the very people you don’t understand. As long as the conversation stays respectful and does not turn into an accusatory yelling match, it will be a healthy way to gain broader understanding of each other. The sooner you start the conversation, the quicker you’ll resolve differences.
Bridge the Gap
Remember to do the following to effectively communicate between generations:
• Know each other’s preferences
• Spend time with each other
• Be open to talking things out
Generational differences can be tough. However, when you are open and honest and take the time to really listen to each other, you can overcome any perceived differences – real or otherwise. A little generational understanding can go a long way to boosting the company’s bottom line.
Joyce Weiss, M.A., CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a conflict resolution consultant and accountability coach who provides bold solutions to boost the bottom line® for individuals and teams. Contact Joyce at 800.713.1926. Resolve conflict and interpersonal issues by looking at video blogs and podcasts at http://JoyceWeiss.com. Joyce invites you to visit http://www.Joyceweiss.com/newsletter-i-33.html to receive the Bold Solutions Ezine to improve your working condition.
Article Author: Joyce Weiss
Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_2042134_15.html
About the Author: Joyce Weiss, M.A., CSP is a conflict resolution consultant and accountability coach who provides bold solutions to boost the bottom line® for individuals and teams. She is the author of Take The Ride of Your Life and Full Speed Ahead. Contact Joyce at 800.713.1926 or Joyce@JoyceWeiss.com. Resolve conflict and interpersonal issues by looking at video blogs and podcasts at http://JoyceWeiss.com. Joyce invites you to visit Joyce’s Bold Solutions Newsletter
to receive the Bold Solutions Ezine to improve your working condition