Why doesn’t everyone just get along? We hear this all the time. Whether it is differing values, conflicts or simple misunderstandings, some people have a harder time than others “just getting along” with others. And even worse, when they aren’t getting along, they’re the ones who expect the other person to change, so that they do get along!
Now, I don’t know about you, but over the years, I have had absolutely no success in getting others to change.
Think of it this way… Have you ever tried to change something about yourself? Diet? Habit? Phrases? It is extremely difficult to change yourself, much less anyone else, right? So why are people trying to change others, when they can hardly change themselves?
My point: if you want to improve relationships with others, one tactic is for one of the people to change the way he or she communicates. That person is not the other guy or gal. It’s you.
Why? Simple. Because the other person won’t. You are in control of you, so if there’s any adjusting to be made, the only adjusting that you can control is adjusting you.
Why is this important? Because we need to communicate to move forward. Leadership is needed to help move our companies and businesses forward. The only way to get people moving is by communicating. And to move people forward, you’ve got to connect with them.
So let’s say you’re very friendly, talkative and outgoing. You walk into a room, and you see a very reserved person working quietly. You want to start a conversation with that person. Which of these scenarios has a better chance of “working” for both of you?
1 You charge over to the person, lunge into a handshake, speak loudly and laughingly, and sing, “Hi, my name’s Pat, how the heck are you doing today? What’s the bottom line on that project?”
2 You settle yourself down, you become focused on the person, you notice their demeanor, and, knowing you have a tendency to be loud, you consciously lower your voice, smile, and say, “Hello, how are you? My name is Pat. May I join you? Is now a good time to talk about the project?”
Of course the second scenario has a better chance of working for both participants. You’re giving Pat a chance to be himself or herself, rather than dominating or intimidating him or her with your own personality type. You are opening the door for an exchange of communication, rather than a one-way communication. And we all know that when people participate, they are more likely to embrace the topic.
So, back to why changing the way you communicate will help you influence your business, organization, or even family. Your ability to adjust your communication style to that of the person with whom you’re communicating is directly related to your ability to gain understanding, commitment or agreement from that person. In this fast-moving world, it is important that people develop and use these practices.
So what can you do?
- The next time you are in conversation with a person, put yourself in his or her shoes. Try to see things from their perspective, rather than yours.
- Observe the person to understand his or her communication style, then adjust your communications to work with that style.
- Ask questions, and sincerely await and care about the answer.
- Never interrupt. Interrupting indirectly tells others that you think what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.
- Repeat the information shared, digesting it, before responding.
- Strive for a win:win, where both of you feel you have contributed to a solution.
- Value your differences. Seek out different frames of reference, and different strengths.
Without trying to understand or appreciate different communication styles, you can open yourself up to misinterpret others.
In the end, we should value our differences. But to value them, we need to understand them and appreciate them, rather than judge them or see them as an annoyance. Because people with differing strengths, knowledge and frames of reference can create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Understanding their “side” can help you get there.