“I want to improve communication.”
That’s a goal often stated by leaders in business organizations, family members, community
volunteers and others. It seems that nearly everyone believes that there is room to become
better at communicating.
When we ask our clients to describe what better communication looks like, we don’t hear
anything about newsletters, social media or email. Better communication isn’t described as a
broader vocabulary or a prescribed agenda for meetings. Instead, we hear statements such as:
“My boss never listens.”
“People just don’t understand each other.”
“No one is on the same page.”
Communication isn’t about the medium and – as bold as this statement may seem – it isn’t
even about the message. Communication is about connection and when a connection is
absent, communication falls short.
To improve communication in every aspect of life, start by approaching every conversation with
an intent to listen and connect to the human being involved. Ask questions with sincere
curiosity to gain an understanding of who the other person is, to learn what is important to him
or her (and why) and to appreciate the differences between you.
Listening to connect builds a foundation of trust, which in turn enables open dialogue and
meaningful communication. It’s a basic tenet of Judith E. Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence, a
body of work in which the Ibis Coaching partners are trained.
Think you don’t have time to invest in listening to connect? How much time are you spending
trying to fix communication-related problems in your home, community or business? Try
approaching your next conversation with a sincere desire to connect with the other
individual(s). You’ll be surprised by how this one small step can begin to make a big difference
in the quality of your communication.