Communication: Two to tango, one to lead?

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.”

Who gets to judge how effective communication is: the sender or the receiver?  The speaker, or the listener?

One of the hardest pills for us as beings – who communicate daily – is recognizing that effective communication is in the eye of the…(drum roll please) receiver.

That’s the hardest thing about communication: we ultimately don’t get to assess if we do it effectively. We know it takes two to tango, but do we recognize that it’s the person following who gets to assess the leader?

In communication, it’s the listener who gets to assess how effective you are as a speaker.

It sucks, I know. And, it may seem like it’s out of your control.

But… it’s not.

Think about it this way: it’s a game of catch. You pitch, they catch.

But the way you throw the ball would probably vary if you were playing with a child versus a friend, or a parent, or an MLB player. Right?

So why don’t we communicate that way?

Let’s take a step back —

If I spoke to a toddler the same way I spoke to an adult, the error would be on my part.

If I spoke to you perfectly in a language you didn’t speak, that would be… my fault.

OK, back to work.

Somehow – despite effectively tailoring our communication in our personal lives – we forget about tailoring our communication everyday at work. At work, we often communicate in the way WE like to receive information.

Imagine you walked into a meeting with a peer, limited the small talk and bluntly shared your perspective.

Someone who prefers that style of communication might think that was the best meeting of the day.

Another style might think you were a bit… harsh. Too blunt.

Other styles may want more context, or have the space to ask more questions.

You might be thinking to yourself, “ok, so what do I do? Do you want me to just be someone completely different? A chameleon in every situation? Why can’t they change?”

And to answer those, we’d say… increase self-awareness, no, kind of, and good question.

But the key here is increasing self-awareness. Understanding how you prefer to communicate and how that could be perceived by others.

We’re not asking that you shift your style completely. We’re asking that you think about communication between two people as a spectrum, and that you each work to take one step closer toward each other.

1 Comment

  1. Nazli Kheder October 13, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Love love and truly love this post about communication!!!!!! Your advice be used in personal and professional lives.


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