If communicating with others was simple to do, we would all be much better off from a relationship perspective, have greater appreciation and an understanding of others, and far less angst in our lives. Does this sound promising? It should, and it can all begin with taking a step back, and pausing to think about how you communicate with others.
While I was commuting back from Manhattan to Boston recently, I overheard one of the most heartwarming conversations. It was between a young father and his son who was probably around 3-4 years old. The son was obviously very bright.
During the course of the four-hour commute, the son asked his father well over fifty questions. The son was in the process of learning how to read and do math. It was obvious the math being discussed was well beyond the elementary school math level. So, basically the son knew how to do math before he could read. Yes, I was impressed by this.
What I was more impressed with was the level of patience the father had with teaching his son how to read, and how to solve problems involving fractions, division, multiplication and basic algebra. Each time the son became stuck in trying to figure out how to sound out a word, or understand the math computation he was working on, listening to the father’s explanation was like listening to classical music.
It was seriously beautiful the way the father communicated and interacted with his son. If you did not know how old the child was, and I am only guessing he was pre-kindergarten, the most amazing part of listening to their conversation was how sincerely and articulately the father communicated with his son. Independent of his actual age.
Upon listening to this conversation, I began thinking about how I communicate with others, and about how whether people are aware of their own communication style. Do they vary and tailor their communication style based on who they are speaking with, or do maintain a predictable and mechanical style when conversing? If they aware of their communication style, is it a style which has served them well, or held them back personally or professionally?
So, how do you know what your communication style is, and have you considered the impact it has had on your life or others? If you haven’t, here are some tips on how to have perspective on your style.
- Think about your typical day. Do you spend most of it talking or listening to others? Is there a 50/50 split, or more one sided? People with strong listening skills tend to be good at problem solving. Are you?
- Do you find that you get really excited when you are speaking with someone and find yourself talking over them? Many people do this, and it is a communication style which can hold you back professionally. Why, because you can appear to be less capable of controlling your ability to hold onto your thoughts. People who also talk over others are also perceived to be rude.
- Are you the type of person who interrupts others during your conversations? You may not be aware you are doing this, so pay close attention to whether or not you are. If you are, slow down your communication, and allow the other person to finish what they are saying. If you find this really difficult to do, ask them if you can interject your commentary to get your point across.
- Have others referred to you as “chatty”? This can actually skew towards both a positive and negative reference. So, be sure to tilt to the positive side. Sometimes people who are referred to this way simply talk too much, and do not allow others to have their fair share of the conversation.
- Some people are natural born teachers, regardless of whether this is their actual occupation. The father I was referencing to earlier easily falls into this category. Perhaps you do too? If so, embrace this communication style, as we can all certainly benefit from having more and thoughtful teachers in our lives.
There are numerous other communication styles which I have not referenced. I have left them out intentionally, as the point of this story is to get you thinking about having a better understanding of what your style is. When you better understand what your communication style is, you can work on either accepting it, or striving towards becoming better or a different type of communicator with practice.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer, and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances.
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