Being open-minded enough to listen sincerely, is sometimes difficult in stressful times
Have you noticed that some people always have an agenda? That they never really listen? They just respond to what you say, instead of trying to get your picture of what you are saying? When people lack clarity in their head and are stressed, it often spreads to their conversations.
People often do this without even having a concern about what is going on or that it is a problem. Actually, it may even be very inspiring talking to somebody that always knows what to say and are quite dominant in their communication skills. If dominant people don’t get feedback on this behavior, or they don’t accept the feedback when they get it, the problem won’t go away.
Non-sensitivity vs sensitivity
Non-sensitive people might not see the consequences and “whole picture” if they are not concerned with details. They may lack empathy to see what is really going on “behind the scenes”, including all the things that are not being said to them and actual responses on their behavior. People around them just “adjust” to their insensitivity, hiding their real feelings and perhaps nobody even bothers to ask what is going on. Sometimes we need to talk about the way we communicate. Bringing clarity to our communication is not so much about being clear about your own desires, its much more about engaging, listening and having real life dialogues, asking questions and avoiding misunderstandings.
Being a bit more sensitive and caring is also about asking more questions, caring about the answers or what is yet to be found. There should not be too many questions either, as that may seem controlling. Blocks to good communication-skills are very often: orders, commanding and directing people, arguing with them, disagreeing, judging, criticizing, withdrawing from the communication, humoring and sometimes even changing the subject. Very often blocks to good communication is about not having enough sensitivity-skills.
Being a bit more sensitive and less dominating makes people open up, so they can be more honest about their feelings, reflections and motivation. If you have people working for you, this is worthful knowledge and may bring you clarity in your communication with others. You stop assuming things and start to get more aware.
You need to know how people feel and what motivates them. You need to build and establish trust to get lasting engagement. Sensitivity will bring you value. Call people up and show that you care, stop to listen, avoid hasty assumptions based on your own perspectives, needs and demands, and create meaningful deeper conversations with people. Listen to show affection.
Insensitive and dominant people often just assume that they understand, taking their “wisdom and others for granted”, not being open to dialogue and reflections that matter to people. Often this is connected to stress, and it creates stressful communication and hasty assumptions. Stressful communication often leads to all kinds of problems: people don’t get the information they need to get the job done, you misjudge people or don’t have the information you need to make it right from the beginning. You’re not bothering to take the time to clear out misunderstandings, and you end up with illusions, dissapointment and frustrations during the day.
A reality check in conversations and communication can give you more motivational work-conditions, clarity in your communication with others, and bring you better relationships and less stress. Show that you actually try to understand others and that you really care. Understanding others is always about doing your best.
It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens,
how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.
I have deeply appreciated the times that I have experienced this sensitive,
empathetic, concentrated listening.
Carl. R. Rogers
Sometimes we just “cannot understand” each other because we are too different in our perspectives, goals and skills. But even then, we need to respect that people are different and that we accept indifferences. Based on mutual respect communication can solve problems, but we need to care for people and respect them. Not just demand things and take the for granted. If you are the manager in charge, you have a certain responsibility for the effect you have on others and accepting indifferences. If you have the power to control the conditions or people around you, you should be especially concerned about how you affect others and how people differ from yourself. And remember: most people don’t tell you what they mean.
It’s also up to you to see how you behave: do you answer people? Do you see them? Or do you show them that you don’t really care? Do you hide behind a “busy schedule” and excuses to not being more sensitive and caring? It’s all about your choice. Nobody decides for you even if you have a busy schedule.
You have to make your own decisions, use your awareness and reflect on your choices about you want to be, and whether you want to care or not. Be honest, so you can be more clear in your communication. Take responsibility for your own communication and accept human differences.
Avoid communication and thoughts that leads to misunderstandings, assumptions and wrong judgements. Call people to get clear with them. Stop assuming. Listen to get clarity. Avoid telling somebody what to do. Ask them what they think. Cooperate and show concern.
A way to get over the problem with “assuming things about each other or situations”, is that we can train ourselves to be more open, present and clear in our mind, not always knowing what to say immediately, without using a bit reflections or questions to rule out misunderstandings or wrongly made assumptions. Being a bit more careful about conclusions and assumptions may give us more clarity to work, and lead us to more concrete, effective communication skills based on trust and mutual respect.
Ask questions- and listen with a caring ear.
Avoiding misunderstanding means you have to stop making conclusions and assumptions and use more dialogue with the people around you. Look them in the eye and show real concern for what they are saying and their feelings. Sometimes people just need to be listened to, not go get your advice or critic. Being listened to stimulates our inner motivation.
You may also have to look your own fears in the eye. Often there are fears behind communicating in a very dominating way to take control, or on the other side- being too passive and closed to ask the right questions and open to have a vital dialogue. There are all kinds of fear people carry with them. We may be afraid of seeming untalented or insecure by asking questions, but be aware that it creates a certain distance to the people around you that you perhaps are trying to gain trust with?
You may actually be moving one step forward while at the same time moving two steps back if you hesitate to create dialogues. Going through that fear, trusting your instincts and open up, gives room for clarity and reflections, and may lead us to avoid misunderstandings or poorly judgements. With social training we get better day by day.
Create more “depth of conversation”
Another reason to misunderstandings and lack of clarity, is that we lack the more “in depth”-conversations where we look for motivational factors behind words and conversations. We have too shallow conversations were we often talk about objects outside people, and not the person itself. It may often be very rewarding talking to someone who has communication skills as a therapist or coach. They are often more trained in “listening skills” and deeper reflections, that make them able to connect on a deeper level, focusing on the person, the subject with a heartfelt desire to listen.
When we are very focused on the objects around us, even words, an article, picture or other measurable objects that affects our senses, we may be too concerned about the objects instead of the people behind it. This is where many leaders and relationships fail: we don’t see the people behind acts and actions. We fail to understand and talk it over.
Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress,
working together is success.
Tekst: Anne Marie Presthaug Monsen
Kilde: Motivational Interviewing, by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick. Guildford Press 2013