Communication can be one of the most important yet challenging skills.
There are so many dynamics that influence communication, such as:
- Your frame of mind or mood
- Relationship with the person you are speaking to, and past history
- Language barriers
- Where the communication takes place
- How the dialogue occurs (face to face, email, texting, etc.)
- Ability to listen effectively
- Distractions (people, noises, location, technology, time, etc.)
And these are just a few of the many influences.
Communication is an active process, one that involves listening, processing and speaking. Sometimes people combine two processes simultaneously, such as speaking while trying to listen.
I have always believed that beginnings and endings are so important, and that this concept applies to communication as well. How you begin a dialogue impacts the rest of the communication, how people hear your message, what assumptions they draw about your or your perspective, etc. Similarly, how you end a conversation will impact the next dialogue you enter into.
Take this example....Mary had just left a stressful staff meeting where issues were left open, and people quickly retreated to their offices to have the “meeting after the meeting”. The tension in the air was thick, issues needed resolution and the team just talked around them. Irritated and stressed, she went into a meeting with a client. Her greeting was edgy, and almost off-putting. The frame of mind she left the staff meeting with was the one she brought into her client dialogue. Needless to say Jack the client noticed and the conversation took an awkward turn. Looking at his watch several times (and Mary who was generally very self-aware and present did not noticed), he stated they could perhaps pick up the conversation in a couple of days when he was back in town and had more time.
So, take some time to create clear, collaborative, compassionate and clean endings in your conversations, so you begin the next one in the same way. Allow yourself a short transition between conversations. Remember to breathe. Imagine leaving one conversation at the door as you enter the next one.
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