Saturday, January 28, 2012

Four Ear Dimensions of Communication…PART II

Communication and discussion tips for making the same more effective
During the discussion, focus on these four dimensions, check your body language for each dimension.

Shown in the following graphic is “what and how to focus to make the communicant /discussion more effective.”

1. How to focus on “Fact” dimension?

Remain objective
ØPlace the topic as focus of the conversation, rather than yourself or your own interests. The following behaviours could support objectivity:
ØFormulate the topic as a common problem-in-common
ØAnalyze the problem
ØCollect various solution ideas
ØAsk for information
ØDesignate opinions as personal evaluations
ØCompare estimates with current values
ØDiscuss the consequences in several dimensions (financial, personnel, technological, organisational)

Speak in such a way that next person understands your view point.
ØMessages are easier to understand when the speaker organizes his thoughts and presents them in a logical order. The following tips help:
ØUse short, simple sentences with common words; explain foreign words and jargon where necessary.
ØPresent the information in a logically-constructed form, with a recognizable path.
ØKeep the message short and concise, sticking to the important points.
ØUse additional stimuli: pictures, comparisons, illustrations (possibly also visually).

Listen carefully
ØFactual content can be discussed more clearly when the discussion partner listens analytically and not associatively. Listening analytically means:
ØDon’t lose your train of thought through stimulating words.
ØStick to the statements of your discussion partner and don‘t go on tangents.
ØCheck the validity of the arguments rationally, don‘t let emotions deflect you.

Check the arguments for unspoken assumptions and superficially plausible rationale.

2. How to focus on “Relationship” dimension?

Active listening
Listening in people-centered discussions is called active, when it is not limited to a passive reception of information, but rather involves a range of highly active processes:
ØTo put oneself in the other person’s shoes, to think and feel from his perspective
ØTo attempt to comprehend what the other person really means and wants to say (i.e. not to get stuck on certain sayings or key words)
ØTry to sense the emotional state and mood of the other person
ØKeep back one’s own evaluations, suggestions and spontaneous reactions or sometimes for a while knowingly suppress them
ØLet the other person know that you’re following his statements by use of body signals (eye contact, “hmm”, nodding)

Actively listening is recognizable, when the listener
Ø Summarizes the sender’s statements and attempts to repeat
Ø Notes the emotional state of the other person and addresses it;
ØSticks to the main message with open questions, or those that invite further reflection;
ØCan withstand pauses;
ØSends nonverbal signals (see above)
Discuss feelings directly
ØEmotions are usually recognized and decoded from non-verbal signals. Physical responses typically fall into one of three basic categories:
ØLike (joy, trust, sympathy, satisfaction, hope)
Ø Dislike (Aggression, Antipathy, defensiveness, discontent)
Ø Anxiety (fear, doubt, disappointment, pain, evasion)

At work people are generally shy about mentioning the discussion partner‘s emotions. It requires sensitivity and practice to formulate the observed emotional state accurately and appropriately.

Give feedback
ØOne should let one’s discussion partner know how you’re experiencing the situation and the other person, after certain episodes or passages. Such statements are helpful when there are misunderstandings or conflicts.
ØWith feedback, you let the other person know how you have understood his statements, what wishes you have, and how you have experienced him. It is just as important to receive such statements, as to give them, without reacting crossly, out of sorts or defensively.
Such responses are better received, when you
ØDescribe content instead of passing judgment;
ØFormulate emotions directly instead of indirectly;
ØSpeak in the first person (“I”) instead of third person (“One”, “it”);
Ø Allow reciprocity, i.e. staff can speak to their manager in the manager that he speaks to them.
ØState your own wishes (concretely what the other person should do differently)

(Another two dimensions - Next time)

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