Wed | Aug 21, 2019

Trevor E. S. Smith How To Communicate So You Connect Every Time: 3 Steps To Success

Published:Sunday | September 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM

You say something, and they hear something totally different.

You thought there was agreement, only to learn later, that is not the case.

People may speak the same language and yet fail to get across their intended meaning. Effective communication is a major challenge!

"That's what I said" may only be in your head. "That's what I heard", is just absurd!




Many conflicts arise from miscommunication.

Messages may not leave you the way you intended. You may have used trigger words that caused the other party to put up their resistance or to be upset.

Your expression and body language may have been sending a different message causing confusion in their mind.

The tone of your voice and the volume and pace of your speech could also be sources of distraction from what you meant to communicate.




The communication challenge is compounded by factors on the other side.

The timing may not be right. The other person may be busy, upset or distracted. Your message is received with distortions.

That is one reason for, "But I told you!"

The nod in agreement and even the "Sure!" is not a guarantee that the message was received intact by the other party.

In one of our workshops, we did an exercise related to giving and receiving instructions. A senior executive repeated word-for-word the instructions of his colleague while doing the very opposite. He mouthed the words while acting on what he planned.

I asked a member of staff to restate what I had just said. He heard what he wanted to hear not what I (thought I) had said.

Don't dismiss this as lying. The filters we use to process incoming information can deceive us. What we internalise and accept as having been heard might not actually have been said.

This is the root of many disputes surrounding lying.

"But you said!"

"I said no such thing."





Step 1: Observe the context/situation


There are many factors that can distort communication. Be aware of the circumstances surrounding your communication - sending or receiving information.

Here are a few things to take into your consideration:

• The mood of both sides

• Issues like age, gender, educational background, culture

• What is at stake for each side

• The history related to the issue

• The body language of both parties

• The tone of voice and the pace and volume of speech

• The background for the communication e.g. is it noisy?


Step 2: Choose your words carefully


Remember people attach their own understanding and response to words. Steer clear of words that could cause confusion or conflict.

Emphasise "You" and "Your" versus "My" and "Mine" in general conversation. Avoid "You" in conflicts.

Also, use calming words in conflicts. Use dynamic words to promote action.


Step 3: Take behavioural styles into consideration


People "hear" and respond differently to incoming information based on their behavioural style.

Someone who is outspoken and processes information swiftly may respond to your opening statement without allowing you time to clarify what you mean. In that case, you need to carefully work through your communication strategy and content before approaching them.

Similarly, if an individual demands facts and supporting evidence, appealing to their emotions is not likely to be well-received.

Further, you might torpedo your goals by failing to include a personal connection in your communication. "He did not even ask about my daughter's exam results. Who wants to do business with a refrigerator?"

Another common error is moving too far, too fast. Sometimes the communication comes across as the equivalent of proposing marriage on the first date. You could also be dragging out your communication to the point where the other party gets impatient and opts out.

Learn to read behavioural styles and the pace at which others want to proceed.




Develop your communication skills. Request a free copy of our publication: DISCerning Communication - Comprehensive Guide to Interpersonal Relations, Leadership and Coaching at

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