Communication is not about what you say – it’s about what is heard.
How can you ensure you are being understood?
We all know that if 10 people witness an event there will be ten different recounts and then what really happened.
Have you ever watched a movie with someone and when you discuss it later and wonder whether you were watching the same thing?
Who understood it best?
The mind is an incredible thing. It is estimated we are bombarded with over 2 million bits of information per second.
The most we can process is 134 bits of information per second broken into around 7 chunks.
Arghhh! So how do we decide what gets in?
To sort all of that information our unconscious immediately deletes what it deems irrelevant.
It uses our attitudes, values, beliefs, memories etc to do this.
So this leaves all of the juicy stuff.
It still needs to be chunked into information the conscious mind can process.
Generalisations are important so that, for example, we don’t need to relearn what a car is every time we see one.
It’s the basis for all assumptions and stereotypes.
A quick way to make sense of a situation.
Distortions are the other way we quickly chunk information – this is where all of those different recounts happen.
Our biases and ways we represent, code, store and give meaning to our experiences will alter what that experience is.
So what has this got to do with being heard?
Our brain receives information through our 5 senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and feeling.
Each of us has one that is dominant over the others. This strongly influences the way we interpret information.
The other major influencer is self talk.
Glass half full?
Glass half empty?
Glass can always be refilled?
Yeah – so?
I’ll give you an example of miscommunication I have encountered with my kids – I am a visual person.
When it comes to new information, I need to ‘see’ it.
I get a phone call from my daughter asking me when I am going to get to her place.
EEK – whaaaat?
‘Mum – when I was leaving your place yesterday, I asked you were you coming over today – remember? I hugged you and we discussed it’.
I scroll back through my memory and I vaguely remember the conversation.
If I had written it down or if I had seen her put it in her phone – I would have remembered it.
She processes the world primarily through her auditory (hearing) sense, so that speaking is enough.
What’s interesting is that if she saw the information written down – she would be less likely to remember it.
This is where listening becomes really important to being heard.
The words we use give clues to the way we process the world.
I ‘see’ what you mean.
She ‘hears’ what you mean.
Others may ‘feel’ what you’re saying.
Or ‘understand’ – this would be my son, the science graduate, who is all about process, calculating, thinking etc.
Once you understand this about yourself, you can start to understand this about others as well.
Then you can adjust the way you deliver information.
Imagine how much easier it would be to explain homework problems to your kids if you understood the way they processed the information.
Or briefing clients, managers, staff on proposals.
Visual people usually stand or sit with their bodies erect and their eyes up. they have trouble remembering verbal instructions because their minds tend to wander. They will be interested in how things look. They learn by seeing.
Auditory people move their eyes sideways. Are easily distracted by noise. Like to be told what they need to do. They are interested in what you have to say about things. They learn by hearing.
Feeling people often move slowly. They respond to physical rewards. They are interested in things that ‘feel right’. They learn by doing.
Processing people can exhibit characteristics of the other groups however they are all about things ‘making sense’. They learn by analysing – facts, figures, graphs.
If you would like to understand more – there is a quick preference test you can download from my blog that will allow you to determine your dominant sense.
It also includes more information about each of the preferences.
You can ensure you receive information in the most effective way.
As well as communicating more effectively with those around you.
Bottom line – it’s not how loud you say it.
It’s how loud they hear it.
Author: Cat Valentine
Image: Dataworks Educational Research