How to Communicate with Intention
Conversation in the workplace can be less than productive if you don’t go about it correctly. Avoid having employees and colleagues shut you out by learning how to communicate with intention. Here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind to open an engaging dialogue.
Do not speak for others.
When you respond to another, do not incorporate phrases such as ïwe believeï or ïeveryone thinks.ï Using such terms insinuates that you understand the thoughts going through the head of other individuals. In reality, you can only be certain of what you think. Therefore, stick to phrases such as ïI believeï or ïI understandï and speak only for yourself.
Listen. No, actually listen.
When another is speaking, force yourself to pay attention to exactly what it is he or she is saying. Avoid preparing your next statement or argument with the assumption that you know what is about to be said; ignoring part of the conversation diminishes your ability to communicate with intention. Stay in the present moment and evaluate statements prior to coming up with a response. Feel as though he or she is droning on Resist the urge to daydream and remain an active listener to ensure you do not miss any important points.
Now that you have fully listened, clarify that you understand what was said by stating it back in your own words. This not only shows that you were engaged, but helps eliminate misunderstandings. Once you have spoken your piece, ask the other to clarify what he or she believes was your point to ensure you were properly heard. This allows you to know that your point has, indeed, been made in the way you intended.
State, don’t ask.
Avoid asking the other person why he or she is taking a particular position on the subject. Doing so can make the other feel as though he or she has been put on the spot, which may result in responding in a defensive manner. Instead, communicate with intention by stating your position on the matter and allowing the other to respond to that.
Remain open minded as you listen to another’s position; refrain from making any rash judgments. Communicate with intention by engaging in further conversation, grasping a better understanding of why it is that the other feels the way he or she does. If you do feel the need to make a judgmental statement, avoid sweeping declarations that pull others into the mix. Adhere strictly to the rule of speaking only on your own behalf.
When you are listening to another voice a concern on a matter, take time to acknowledge that you have heard and understand what the issue is. However, just because a person is venting, this does not necessarily mean that he or she is asking for your input on the situation. Save your problem solving skills only for times in which they are requested; otherwise, stick to the position of simply being a sounding board. You have a personal story that you can relate to the situation Fantastic! Keep it to yourself. Unless your anecdote or input is requested, refrain from taking the stage.
Offer advice, don’t impose it.
If your input is requested, offer advice without suggesting that it must be followed. There is quite a difference between offering and imposing, with the biggest being the reception you will receive and the likelihood that it will be followed.
Take note of nonverbal cues.
While the words spoken are quite important during a conversation, nonverbal cues can be just as valuable. Take note of the way the other person is presenting him or herself, such as a pensive expression creeping across the face, brows furrowing, or arms crossing tightly, suggesting a less than warm reception to what is being discussed. You can also use nonverbal cues to gauge the other’s reaction to your statements, helping you to realize when to take a new angle to get your point across.
Understanding how to communicate with intention is an art that, when executed properly, can make a huge difference. Whether you are engaging in small talk or trying to get to the bottom of a serious issue, maintain a flowing dialogue by taking these basic guidelines into consideration.
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