The Secret to Effective Communication

The Secret to Effective Communication

Everyone communicates – we do it all the time. We speak, we react, we reflect it in our facial expressions and body language, and sometimes we even listen.

However, more often than not, our messages are misunderstood, misinterpreted, read through the rose coloured glasses of some else’s thoughts and feelings and we’re just not getting our messages across.   

To be an effective communicator is not simply communicating to be understood but rather, communicating so that your audience understands your intention AND buys into what you’re saying, providing mutual benefit to you both. This is not manipulation because it is not trying to convince someone to do or see it your way but rather, the end result is a win-win for both the communicator and the audience. Since effectively communicating with someone allows them to hear the message without feeling offended, put off or guarded, it is particularly useful for bosses, parents, managers, teachers, and other authoritative figures.

 When you know the personality of someone else, you can modify your natural behaviour and inclinations to adapt to the style best suited to your listener. Remember – the onus of getting the message across lies with the communicator – the one who is speaking. If you do not know the personality of yourself and others, scroll down to the end of this post to find out how you can.

So What is the Secret?

The secret to effective communication is honouring… we honour someone by conforming our own communication style to reach and motivate the person we are communicating with. Think about being quiet in a library – much more challenging for an otter personality type because of an otter’s natural inclination is to be talkative and social. In this type of setting, an Otter needs to conform because  being quiet is the rule (or they will risk getting kicked out!).  The same rule applies in other settings as well.  Let’s say you are a lion; which is depicted by an authorative, leadership and entrepreneurial nature, someone who has strong opinions and likes to cut to the chase. Because of your nature, you may find it difficult when listening to a bever colleague talking on and on in infinite detail about a particular process.  Your natural lion inclination would be to interrupt the beaver, to tell him to ‘cut to the chase’ and ‘give me the bottrom line here’ – or even ‘get to the point’. However, if that beaver was your boss, you would probably bite your tongue and remain quiet, even though it would be difficult for you to do so. We modify our behaviour based on our knowledge, experience and maturity level in any given situation. Honouring is the same concept.

For example, when speaking to a lion, it’s better to keep it brief, succinct and very impersonal. (Otters and goldens don’t mind it when you get more personal or chatty but a lion will not be amused). Recognize that the lion is driven by results. On the other hand, when speaking with a beaver, be sure to provide as much detail as possible, noting quantitative and qualitative facts because beaver personalities are driven by accuracy and quality.

Honouring is reflected in what we give – not what we receive back. This is because we cannot control the actions, words or communication style of others – we can only control our own words, actions and behaviours.  When we know (or even suspect) the personality style of another, we can modify our natural words and behaviour to better communicate in a way they comprehend and receive it best. Doing so is more likely to get your message across in a way that is well received and accepted by another.

 3 Steps to Honouring:

  1. Actively Listen: look them in the eye, nod to show you understand or ask questions if you don’t – and NO NOT INTERRRUPT while another is speaking 
  2. Acknowledge and validate what they say – paraphrase what you heard in your own words, to  
  3. Show that you value them through your response (like the examples above) – comment on what you heard, based on personality type

It takes a conscience effort and a lot of practice to master these skills but in time it does get easier and more naturally. Practise these 3 keys and you will improve your level of interpersonal communication skills with colleagues, staff, your family and friends to improve relations, and consequently build trust and gain rapport. Try it!

Are you a decisive lion? A playful otter? A quality beaver? or a friendly Golden Retriever?

Join our workshop on “Discovering Your Personality”

Its FUN – it’s FREE – and it’s available at the Sweet Spot Training Centre.

Click the link or visit our new MeetUp Group – “Live the Sweet Life” for more info. Our next session to be scheduled.

Let our workshop come to you!

Onsite workshops are also available. Sally has facilitated “on site” Effective Communication workshops for:

  • Ministry of Revenue, CIO Office
  • Ministry of Finance, Strategy and Planning Management Team
  • Ministry of Finance, Strategy and Planning Branch

These workshops provide a fun, interactive way to motivate staff and improve communications for managers, directors, staff, teachers, parents, and teams. Book as a lunch & learn or choose a full team-building session, complete with hands-on break-out sessions.

For more information on booking a workshop, feel free to contact us today


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