Some days are tough right! All it takes is someone to say something to you in the wrong tone, wrong timing or they just aren’t listening or understanding what you are saying or disagree with what you saying. It’s enough to make you blow your top, swear like a trooper or vow that they are a bloody idiot and you are not dealing or talking to them anymore…. Sound familiar?
Communication. Wikipedia defines as: ‘the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules’. What if I told you that for most people it is not ‘mutually understood’ at all?
Everyone communicates differently. We like to communicate to others and alternatively receive communication in a certain way. This way is rarely exactly the same as everyone else. Chances are your closest friends that you choose to be around communicate very similar to you, that’s why you are great friends and get along so well. On the reverse, chances are there are some people that you work with that have completely different ways of communicating and they drive you crazy…. Have you thought that you probably drive them crazy too?
Now I could write for pages and pages about all the communication styles that others have cited eg: Relator, Socializer, Thinker, Director or Assertive, Aggressive, Passive-Aggressive, Submissive, Manipulative or Doers, Connectors, Influencers, Thinkers…. I am sure many of you have heard or at least one of these sets. What if putting a label on their style really doesn’t matter?
All you need to know is does their style work for you? If the answer is no, there is a very good chance your style doesn’t work for them either. What to do?
- First PAUSE!! Take a deep breath and think this through. What is it about their communication style that drives you crazy? How does this differ to how you would communicate this? Now that you have the two extremes being their delivery and your delivery you need to find a middle ground. Can you combine the 2 together? Can you meet halfway? Think of every option possible.
- Talk about it. Yes I know crazy right. The best way to solve communication issues is to communicate. Grab a coffee or set a casual environment where you are both in a neutral place and neutral seats. What I mean by this is do not sit opposite each other in a meeting room. Take it out of the meeting rooms or office and somewhere comfortable to you both. Either way do it face to face definitely not over the phone or email.
- Start by acknowledging that communications between the two of you haven’t been fantastic and that you have totally different styles. This is not a bad thing! No-one is right and no-one is wrong. Remember, they are not a failed version of you! Explain to them how you like to be communicated with and what you value in communications. Then ask them what is their preferred style. What works best for them? What do they value in communications?
- Once you have both had a chance to talk about this, work together to find the middle ground. Neither of you are going to magically change your communication needs but neither of you are going anywhere so you need to find a way to make it work. What needs to happen for both of you to get your communications needs met?
- Know that you may not nail this first go! We are asking both of you to compromise and be more aware or what you have always done automatically and what makes perfect sense to you. Agree to be honest with each other and address any communications that don’t go smoothly when they happen in a calm and open way.
Now you know the person a lot better than you did before. You can start to appreciate them and why they do what they do. You don’t need to agree with it cause your style is what makes us all unique. What it will give you is more patience knowing that it isn’t a personal thing. In fact it has nothing to do with you at all and everything about what works for them. Be flexible for what makes them tick and works for them. I’ve seen so many people go from raging enemies that struggle to be in the same room together to quite good mates with respect and appreciation for each other.
Remember, I’ll say it again, they are not a failed version of you!