“One learns peoples through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.”— Mark Twain
It happened again. You opened your mouth to offer a brilliant suggestion at one of your senior staff meetings.
But wait, what was that noise? <Clunk>
That’s the sound of your big idea hitting the meeting room floor and going nowhere.
It’s as if you got put on mute somehow: the group barely registered that you said anything, and completely stepped over you and your comment.
Later on in the meeting, someone else brings up the exact same idea, and everyone’s excited about it.
Hey, wait a minute, you think: that’s what I just said 5 minutes ago.
How can you be sure people hear what you have to say? How can you get your ideas to fly instead of crash and burn?
Effective communication = giving and receiving ideas
Typical team communication is like playing that kids’ party game of Telephone. The game starts with someone whispering a sentence in the next person’s ear.
The sentence gets repeated one by one in whispers around the circle until it comes back to the originator, typically pretty hilariously garbled, bearing little resemblance to the original phrase.
Message sent, but not necessarily received.
In order to get your ideas heard and understood by others, you have to be clear not only about what you say and how you say them, but also be able to deliver them so your audience can actually hear and take them in.
Three keys to getting your message across
- Be clear in your intent and message. What do you want people to understand, get, or know more about? What’s important about it? What’s the stand you’re taking? Why does this issue matter – to you, and ultimately, to them, and your shared interests? Know at a bottom line what you want to stand for and the impact you want to have with others. If you don’t really care about whatever you’re talking about, why should others?
- Speak to your audience. Effective communication isn’t just about how great your idea is: you have to remember who you are sharing it with. What does your big idea offer others? Be sure to show empathy for their situation and awareness of their point of view. Also consider: how does your audience like to get information? Preparing materials to review in advance helps introverts and those who need more time to reflect to consider the concepts you want to share.
- Focus on what you share (vs. what you don’t): Instead of trying to convince people that your way is the best way, focus on what your shared interests are. Point to the bigger agenda, mission, or purpose, instead of playing tug-of-war with the different points of view. Find where you can align, and focus there, using the diversity of opinions as fuel for new creativity.
In the Comments below, share your experience:
What helps you get your ideas heard and accepted by others?
And if you’d like help in improving your team communication dynamics, contact me about tailored training options!
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Photo credit: Pixabay