When we build communication skills we tend to stay tightly focused on how we’re showing up in the actual conversation. We build competencies in delivering our message and in engaged listening. Those skills build trust. They are foundational to strong relationships.
And…they are not a complete set of communication skills. They are two of four:
1. Delivering your message. This captures the work we do to identify and share headlines and speak in a way that we can be heard. This is where we work on the clarity of our message and our intention behind the message. It’s where we get better at landing the plane instead of leaving listeners wondering where we’re headed on this journey and how long it will take to get there. Will you make your point before the end of the meeting or will I be late for my next call?
2. Engaged listening. This is where we build the muscles of really tuning in to what the other person is saying. And to what’s going unsaid. We recap for clarity. We might even name the feelings we’re noticing underneath what’s being said.
Don’t stop here. There are two communication superpowers that too often sit on the shelf, neglected:
3. Reflection. Thinking about what you heard and creating the space for that conversation to shift your perspective, prompt an insight or catalyze action.
4. Follow-up. Re-engaging and telling the person how you’re thinking about what they shared or the action you’re taking as a result of the conversation.
Think about the last time someone came back to you after a conversation to tell you the way an insight you’d shared shaped their thinking or shifted their next step. Even if just by text, it gives you a jolt of, “I was heard. I made a difference.” That’s reflection coupled with follow-up. It can sound like this:
I thought about what you said. It shifted something for me. Thank you.
I heard you when you said you’d like to host a team lunch. Here’s a date, a room and I’ll get the food.
You mentioned you’re frustrated with our budgeting process. I can’t shift deadlines this time around and I don’t know that we can change our process next year but I will step back and look at the process once we’re through this quarter. I’ll let you know where I land.
There’s an outsized impact in most relationships when we demonstrate that we’re carrying a conversation with us and acting on something we heard. Reflection coupled with follow through sends a signal that says, “I heard you. I’m in this with you.”
Two other things I’m thinking about this week. Podcasts and chocolate chip cookies. I’m loving the Wiser Than Me podcast with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and I cannot have too many potato chip chocolate chip cookie recipes.