Have you ever thought why your conversation is not effective? What are you doing wrong that causes misunderstandings or arguments with others? What should be improved from your or the other person’s side? We all know that barriers in conversation exist, and mostly we face them after disagreements, when ship has sailed.
Hearing, and not just listening, is the number one factor.
Daydreaming – do you like to switch off from time to time and just randomly start to think about what needs to be done, where to go for a holiday or what’s in your fridge? All of us do, and there is nothing to worry about – you are not weird. There are various theories about how long people can be focused. However, the most important part of it is to learn how to spot it. Most people realize it when they start getting lost in conversation, but most of the time it is too late. The strong factor here is self-awareness and a good understanding of the situation. What do I mean? As soon as you spot it, be back. Over the last few months, I have been practicing mindfulness everyday. I’ve realised that when I clear my mind in the morning, I can stay longer in conversation during the day. Maybe meditation won’t be your first choice, but it is definitely worth trying (for more than one day).
Are you an advice giver? Stop it, please. Some people really don’t care or don’t want to know what you would do in their situation. A bit harsh? I know. But it is true and I’m the last person who would beat around the bush. Sometimes people just want to share their story or point of view, and they really want you to listen, not talk. When you react in a way that is different from people’s expectations, your rapport with them can be damaged. Read all the signs, words, tones and body language – you will realize when your advice is needed.
Now, it is time for my favourite one: technical language. I remember the time during my first few days in the United Kingdom – my boss asked me to call the IT department because my computer was broken. I called them, and after a few minutes of conversation, I still didn’t know what they’d want. They got frustrated, and the issue wasn’t resolved. The point was, they didn’t realize that I’m not an IT specialist and I won’t understand their technical jargon.
It took us a while to get on the same page. It is fantastic that you are specialized in something, but it doesn’t mean that people will understand you. Some of them will ask again and highlight that they don’t get it, but other ones will pretend that they are completely with you. To avoid this, you can always ask them how they understood your point, if there is anything else to explain and what they think about your story.
Please don’t ask them if it is clear, people don’t like to admit it is not – it makes them feel stupid and none of us like this feeling.
There are many more barriers which you will face every day and there are many solutions for them. I am not saying that you will be able to avoid them every time, but once you learn a few techniques, you will see a reduction in the number of misunderstandings in your communication. So, please put in practice at least one of my suggestions, and you will start to see the difference.