Communication – you might say we human beings are obsessed with it. After all, it’s the fundamental action that brings us together or pushes us apart.
There are hundreds of communication theories, thousands of books on the topic, and millions of articles. You can pursue degrees in communication, choose from thousands of seminars and classes about communication, or engage in philosophical conversations about it with friends, family, or strangers.
Communication permeates our lives.
We all want to be understood. So we search for the right words and the right tone to convey our message. What we often fail to recognize is that each one of us has a built in communication filter and because of that filter, what we mean isn’t always what others hear and vice versa.
How you see the world and make it meaningful to you has everything to do with how you express yourself and how you listen.
Let’s look at an example – story telling. We all like a good story. But how we define a “good story” and how we tell stories differs among Perceptual Styles. In fact, how we tell stories defines what we expect to hear when we listen to them:
Activity people tell stories to share an experience.
Adjustments people tell stories to share information they know.
Flow people tell stories to create a feeling of belonging, a common bond.
Goals people tell stories to resolve problems and solve issues.
Methods people tell stories to explain the “how” – describing structure and results.
Vision people tells stories to impact and influence.
It’s pretty easy to see how we can each get different meanings from the same story or conversation! Then, when you consider that most words have more than one meaning (just check the dictionary), it’s a miracle we ever make ourselves understood!
You have a natural and comfortable approach to communication because of your Perceptual Style. And so does everyone else. Those differences help to explain why you are naturally drawn to some people and easily engage in conversation with them, while it feels like you must work a lot harder to connect with other people.
The fact that we do communicate at all is a testament to the flexibility of the human brain and to the fact that we all tend to assume better transmission of our meaning than actually occurs.
The reality is that most of us don’t give much thought to communication, so the conflicts, hurt feelings, and disconnects we all suffer are due, in part, to taking communication for granted.
The first step to effective communication is to acknowledge that it’s not automatically guaranteed – it takes awareness, some tools and techniques, and a lot of practice.
Perceptual Style is a great tool for improving your communication. The more you understand about Perceputal Style, the easier it is to recognize the differences between you and the people you are communicating with. Then you can apply specific techniques to your communication to ensure that you are more fully understood.
Remember, this is not about abandoning your voice, or changing your fundamental message. It’s about augmenting how you communicate naturally to ensure you are understood and that you understand others in return.
As you listen to people in the coming week, see if you can begin to distinguish differences in their delivery and how you react to them. This is an easy way to start building awareness of the natural differences in how people communicate.
Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.
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About Lynda-Ross Vega
Lynda-Ross Vega is a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. She specializes in helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals with interpersonal communications, team dynamics, personal development, and navigating change. Lynda-Ross is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary behavioral psychology theory and assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their natural strengths and build the life and career they dream of. For free information on how to succeed in business and in life doing more of what you do best, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
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