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How do you know if what you say is being understood?

1/24/2017 9:27:28 AM

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70% of workplace mistakes are the result of poor communication. How well you communicate affects everything you do in the workplace. If misunderstandings frequently occur, it’s time to take a step back and think about your communication approach. How do you know if what you say is being understood?

1. Before you speak, think about your audience.

Is the same mistake always reoccurring even though you’ve explained a process many times? The root cause of this problem may be how you are presenting the information. Communication styles vary from person to person.  One of the best clues to how another person communicates is by observing how they present information to you.  When interacting with your co-worker, ask yourself the following questions.

Question 1: Is the person outgoing or reserved?

Outgoing people tend to listen more when you show enthusiasm for your topic. Ask questions throughout the discussion and keep them involved on a personal level.

If you are working with a more reserved person you need to behave in a more business-like manner.

Question 2: Is the person task oriented or people oriented?

Task oriented people are interested in facts, data and the process of how to get the job done. People-oriented individuals are more interested in hearing personal stories about experiences.  

2. Ask questions after your done speaking

It is important to verify the receiver understands the correct meaning of what you are trying to communicate. Asking the person to repeat your message is the easiest way to get confirmation. Remember to soften your approach by moderating your tone of voice and keeping your body language in check.

Example questions include:

  • I’m not sure I communicated my intentions correctly. What message did you hear?
  • I may have missed a few steps in the process. Could you repeat what I said? I just want to make sure I was clear.

3. Observe Non Verbal Communication Clues

In a 1971 study, Professor Albert Mehrabian discovered the 7% Rule to Communication, which states that only 7 percent of communication is verbal. The other 93% of communication is nonverbal. The non-verbal component was 55% body language and 38% tone of voice. Many different factors influence people’s body language. These factors include the person’s culture and ethnicity, age, and gender.  You should never make an assumption of understanding based solely on body language. But in general, here are a few clues that someone understands what you are saying.

  • Uncrossed arms or legs shows the person is getting more comfortable.
  • Leaning forward or moving closer shows interest
  • Maintaining eye contact is a signal of attentiveness
  • Clinched or  hidden hands is a negative signal
  • Moving away from you shows discomfort
  • Limiting eye contact shows boredom

Strong communication skills can benefit anyone. For more information on developing stronger communication skills, contact us, or attend one or all of our Leadership Certificate Series courses.