Communication: speaking the same language as your team (Part 1)

Have you ever been in a situation, either as a team leader of team member, where you feel the person you’re speaking with just isn’t really listening? … They don’t get it … They can’t see what you’re trying to show them.

Or, do you often feel misunderstood by one particular member of your team? 

What may be happening is that they are hearing you, but the way they are responding seems to be changing the meaning of what you’re saying.

For example …

Sue: “James, I’m really keen to show you how I’ve organised this data in a way that’s easier to understand. It demonstrates clearly how we’ve achieved our targets in the last few months. I think you’ll notice how the colours I’ve used highlight each team member’s contribution.”

James: “Sounds useful. Tell me more.”

Sue: “If you look at this page, you’ll see each team member’s value added data, which I think will be helpful when looking at their next targets.”

James: “Listen, I really like the sound of it … I hear what you’re saying. It would be a good idea to tell the rest of the team what you’ve done at our next team meeting.”

At this point, Sue may be feeling a little frustrated! James wasn’t looking at all Sue’s hard work. He wanted her to tell him about it instead. 

This is a classic example of someone who is more visual talking to someone who is auditory. We all have our individual preferences for learning and remembering things, and we give this away by how we speak.

In the example above, Sue is using lots of visual language:

  • show you
  • demonstrates clearly
  • you’ll notice
  • colours
  • highlight
  • look
  • you’ll see

James on the other hand is using more auditory words and phrases:

  • sounds useful
  • tell me more
  • listen
  • like the sound of it
  • hear

You may not get as many examples as I’ve given in such a short dialogue – I’ve included lots to make the point.

Do you recognise any of the phrases above as ones you use on a regular basis?

Visual and auditory are just 2 of the main styles of learning. In a future blog I’ll continue this discussion by looking at a different one.

In the meantime, pay attention to the phrases and words others use to describe events / situations.

What would you say their preferred style of communication is?

(Photo credits: Master isolated images and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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