If you want to avoid communication breakdowns, there are three things you should do.
We have all have faced with a communication breakdown. Perhaps your plan didn’t came out the way you were hoping. By the time you walked away from the discussion, you could have cut the tension with a knife. The discussion weighed heavily on your mind, adding more anxiety to your workload. For some individuals, it can take a lot more time and effort to recover from a breakdown in communication than it would to avoid one in the first place.
We suggests these three things you can do to avoid communication breakdowns.
1. Be truly present
Because of our busy schedules and the many messages and emails, sometimes we are not present with the people that are talking in front of us. To stay present in a meeting or conversation, turn away from your notifications and put your phone into airplane mode. Even better, leave your phone at your desk. If you have a moment or two before the meeting, rather than trying to send a few additional emails, meditate or do some calming breathing exercises.
2. Listen more
Be truly curious and focused in what is being said, regardless of the possibility that you’re not. Focus on cues. Does the person spend a lot of time on a particular point? Does she get more animated at specific junctures and less at others?
Listening with curiosity provides valuable input on how you may frame your response and navigate the conversation. It can help you tune into the topics your colleague is passionate about. Getting to know them will help you see their perspective and come to an agreement that meets everyone’s needs. From this place of actively listening, your conversation will move forward more productively.
3. Be open
Communication involves the exchange of perspectives and sometimes opposing positions. Unless you open your brain to other’s perspective, common ground can be very hard to find. And finding common ground requires us to listen in order to really consider someone’s position. Being open-minded at times may require you to be open to being proven wrong. As someone is speaking, notice: Are you already thinking about your rebuttal?
Or have you already interrupted? Be open to another person’s perspective. If you’re worried about not having the perfect answer, simply say, “I haven’t thought about it that way before. Can you give me a day or so to think it over?”
Over time, listening with focus and mindfully to others develops trust. This contributes to a sense of psychological safety, which has been found to be the key to successful teams. The ability to take risks and speak up can be the difference between thwarting a mistake or learning from one. In the end, everyone benefits.