Communication goes far beyond the words you say. Mastering this skill can benefit your relationships and life.
Men often get a bad rap when it comes to how and how often they communicate. It’s not a secret that men use fewer words and speak far less often than women. But, to go so far as to say that women are any better at communicating than men, may just be stretching the truth a bit.
Technically no one was right or wrong, you just did not communicate.
The truth is no one is all that great at it, and I am not sure communication is ever a skill anyone, let alone men, ever really master. That is because communicating is so much more than speaking words or telling someone something, it is the skill of having your message heard and acted upon in the time and manner to which you meant it.
Think of the typical scenario of a husband and wife. There you are having an entirely romantic dinner, and as you are cleaning up the dishes your wife asks if you will take out the garbage; to which you respond, certainly. The next thing you know you two are in the biggest fight of your life. Why? Because she meant for you to take the garbage out right now, but you heard “Take it out before Thursday when the garbage guy gets here.” Technically no one was right or wrong, you just did not communicate.
So with no real role models out there–no one to learn from–who are we supposed to turn to? Well, believe it or not, there is a lot you can learn about communication from your GPS. Yes, that little piece of technology that sits in your car and the one you use on your phone is chock full of ideas, tips and strategies on how to build and enhance your communication skills.
I love this quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” That about says it all. In today’s world, your key to decreasing stress, improving your relationships and enhancing your quality of lives comes down to becoming a more effective communicator.
Today’s world is more complex than ever, and the power of communication is far undervalued as a key strategy for making life easier to navigate. We have a lot to learn about this skill, and ironically the most effective teacher is our GPS. This little system holds some powerful secrets to helping us learn how to get our message heard, and our mission accomplished all while enhancing our relationships.
So let’s begin by defining what we mean by communication–effective communication. According to BusinessDictionary.com communication is a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management–an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees.
At no point does our GPS assume that she knows what we want.
Your ability to communicate as an individual and an organization has a direct impact on how engaged and motivated your team is, their ability to reach goals and achieve success easily. The power of effective communication is almost unmatched when it comes to increasing the quality of relationships.
Wow! That is a strong, and I mean STRONG return on investment for such a small, nondescript word like communication.
So what can we learn, what are the secrets of communication that our little ole GPS can teach us?
The Five Secrets Our GPS Holds About Communication
Personal Responsibility – in today’s challenging times we need results, and results begin and happen through our ability to communicate the message effectively. Taking responsibility for how you communicate is lesson number one. Note that our GPS never gets mad, blames or assumes we are stupid if we miss a turn, go the wrong way or ignore her. She simply recalculates. In other words, she takes responsibility that how the message came across and/or was not effective for us. Her response to “not hearing us” is to back up and starts again.
Asks Questions – another great feature of our GPS system is leading with questions. At no point does she assume she knows what we want or what we need to learn. No, instead she begins by asking us, getting us involved, and gaining clarity about what we need. Imagine, how effective a strategy this is? To start communicating by gaining clarity. So lesson number two? Begin communicating by asking questions.
Accepts & Adjusts – No judgment, no condescending tone, just acceptance of who we are and how we like to communicate best. Our GPS has a gut instinct that not all people are created the same, and she is open to adjusting her style of communication to connect better with ours. You can have a male voice or a female voice, you can listen to directions, see them on the screen, or you can have different types of maps. And the list goes on. Whatever works for you, is how you communicate best. This is a strategy every effective communicator must adopt. Understanding how those you want to communicate with best hear the message, and then adjust your style to deliver better.
Gives You Choices – Right from the start she puts you in control. She does not even begin to tell you how to get where you want to go until she gives you your options. This does so much to ensure effective communication, while she is technically in charge telling us what to do. By giving us choices she is giving us skin in the game, a role to play, and making us feel part of the process. Wow, she is good, and if you want to communicate effectively you don’t communicate “at” people. You need to give them a choice, so you communicate “with” people.
Shuts Down – And her best feature? She knows when to stop. By giving you the feature of turning her on or off, she gives you the power to decide when you have had enough. Sometimes too much communication shuts down the process. People need time to hear and digest the message, and by giving them the option to do so, to turn you off, you increase your ability to communicate.
Photo: Flickr/ Nathan Colquhoun
This article originally appeared on My Empowered World.