Is it always good to talk (at work?) asks the Guardian.
My instant reply? Yes, of course it is!
The main reference was talking in meetings though and although I like meetings (am I odd?) because there are lots of thoughts and input to sift out the helpful points, and everyone gets to hear the same message (really?) at the same time…if they listen.
Why is it important?
Talking is fine but not a bit of good without the listening or listener! It’s for sharing information, knowledge, personal insights, getting needs met. Every animal has its onw way of communicating it’s needs – mooing for cows, barking dogs, mewing cats and crying babies. As we get older we use language to represent our needs from food to fulfilment!
When your manager asks you if you can ..really means ‘you will as we need it and your contracted to do it for us’;
When your partner tells you the office gossip or about their day – they are communicating their need to have their say and make comments, to gain empathy and even sympathy maybe – a hug, a reassurance and more!
That is the point of communication – of talking. We all now know the problems with e-mail or texts! I have been the victim of both problems – send emails as if I was talking to the people, and waiting for the feedback, space for questions when in fact is should be factual to be followed by discussion (but to many people, this is where meetings are a necessity!); the text misunderstood with shortened words or ‘text speak’ people don’t know about – LOL is not lots of love but laugh out loud for the mum sharing sad news of a family loss!
This picture demonstrates the importance of the words and message! Both need or want help but one is a new job or help to carry the sofa upstairs, whilst the other is an urgent matter of life or death!
So much more than words…
It also shows the impact of body language! A smile is welcoming, friendly, open and easy going. A jumping, waving man means business and wants urgent help in a fleeting moment!
There is so much more to what is being said – including the unspoken bits too! As a counsellor/coach, listening is important in my job, for my clients. Also, the hearing is too – listening is making the effort to hear, hearing is what you interpret from the words and the body language of your joint conversationalist
Eye contact – the windows to the soul, eyes alight or half closed, closed might be thinking without distractions e.g. visual cues from others, how you process and learn information before you respond
Voice tone and pitch – hard to hide frustration or contempt, or warm happiness!
Body stance – head up, looking at people (social triangle of eyes, to mouth), slouching or leaning back/forwards all tells you something!
The words they use, how they use them – politics is often not clear and precise, but seems like waffle at times – but may be more (see NLP)!
We need to return to trusting our instincts too, and even on the telephone the voice can speak a thousand words instead of just the few chosen words they say to us! If you doubt the words, it’s because the body is saying the opposite or something very different anyway – “yes, I’d love to” but the body turned away and no eye contact says “Oh gosh, no! I will hate it!”
I once listened to someone being ‘nice’ to me by phone and all I could imagine in my mind was a smarmy, suit clad man and a snake! My interpretation to his respectful words were mistrust, the underlying anger I felt he was sending my way and the lack of rapport he clearly created in a few minutes! I no longer work with them …
But back to talking. It is SO important to talk to each other. To tell them your needs, beliefs, thoughts and feelings, your own expectations (of the relationship); they hear you but through their own filters of experience developed from their lives – so check their understanding of what you (thought) you said to them; reiterate in a different way if you can; ask them to explain what was just said/agreed/disagreed with. You can do the same when someone tells you something, or asks you. Repeat it in your words, with your understanding, and clarify for yourself what is being said to you. If needs be, once you’ve processed it, go back to clarify if you have to and make sure you ‘heard’ them right/understood what they want/see what you need from them and ensure they feel good about what they give.
The words matter – talk their language (VAK communication systems), let them take in the message before making choices and decisions, and allow space for ‘discussion’ even when you tell or may be being told something you have to know or do!
Clarify. Be honest. Be specific, concise and genuine – because it shows.