5 Communication Strategies
These 5 communication strategies are aimed at safeguarding accuracy in communication. Accuracy is a fundamental ingredient for effective communication. This post is a companion to Accuracy in Communication, which highlights common threats to accurate communication.
Although these are simple communication strategies, they powerfully enhance more effective communication.
- Make it a habit to always check the accuracy of any information or facts. The more important the issue or outcomes, the more important it is to do sufficient research and investigation. How credible is the source of the information? How current is the information? Is it objective and factual? Or is it just someone’s subjective opinion or interpretation? How did the person arrive at their conclusions or interpretations? Have they missed anything that might be important? Do they have an ulterior or self serving agenda? What assumptions are they making?
- Check that the message sent is the message received. People often ‘get their wires crossed’. Actively check that the other person heard and accurately understands what you intended to communicate. And vice versa. Did the other person hear you accurately? Do they ‘get’ the same meaning you intended? Are you on the same page? The skill of paraphrasing is your ‘go to’ in this situation. This can be as simple as asking the other person to repeat back what they think you said or meant. Paraphrase what the other person has said or written and ask ‘ have I got that right?’ If you are unsure about what the other person is saying, ask ‘do you mean……?” and repeat what you think they said or wrote.
- Avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. This one at first glance seems to be stating the obvious! However, once you start really listening to yourself and other people you will spot assumptions everywhere. Many people are quick to jump to conclusions. They are convinced and sound convincing. This does not necessarily guarantee that they are right or accurate.
- Be mindful of faulty or inaccurate interpretations. This applies both to yourself and other people. Hundreds of filters come into play when we process information. Perception and interpretation are highly complex areas of human experience. There is tremendous room for misunderstanding and inaccuracy. The other four communication strategies will all help to arrive at accurate interpretations.
- Aim to be alert to expectations in a particular situation or interaction. Expectations are a powerful filter. They play havoc with accurate communication. We tend to only take notice of, or see or hear what our expectations set us to notice, see or hear. We easily miss or resist what does not fit our expectations.
These 5 communication strategies give you the opportunity to immediately spot and correct any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
There are a few more useful points to consider. Be wary of a simple ‘yes’ answer when you ask if someone has understood you. Often this is not accurate! People may say ‘yes’ to avoid embarrassment or to avoid appearing ‘dumb’ or incompetent. One of the easiest communication strategies is to simply invite the listener to repeat in their own words what they think you have just said, or meant.
People are usually quite easily convinced about what they think they saw or heard. Even when they have got it wrong. Even despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary! Magicians play in this arena.
When a decision is being made, it is prudent to always carefully check or clarify exactly what has been agreed or decided. This is crucial when the stakes are high or there is potential for unwanted or damaging consequences.
Go directly to the source whenever possible. Although this sounds straightforward it often does not happen. When we are stressed, time poor or overwhelmed by information we tend to take the easier or fastest path. Many people are reluctant to address an issue directly. They avoid confrontation or risking conflict. They are uncomfortable or anxious about checking or challenging certain people.
There are huge benefits that come from making these communication strategies a habit.
They save a great deal of angst, upset and conflict. They promote positive interaction and harmony. They greatly enhance problem solving, negotiating and conflict resolution.
Counselling can resource you in many ways, to be a more effective and confident communicator. Any underlying fears and anxiety can be addressed. Skills like paraphrasing, reflective listening, assertiveness and conflict resolution can all be learned.