In the last year, I’ve learned a powerful truth that has become a godsend to me. Having spent countless hours watching people in airports, engaged in hundreds of conversations and led dozens of seminars, the one truth that I’ve finally found is that when communicating with people, it’s not enough to treat people as you want to be treated, in our hyperconnected world, we must treat people as THEY want to be treated.
Think about all of the communication conflicts that we see in the world. Blunt people treat people bluntly. Long winded people go on and on. Emotional people love to talk about their emotions. We never see ourselves as the problem in any communication conflict because we’re treating others exactly as we would like to be treated and that’s the problem. it is, after all, human nature to assume that other people are like us and if we’re not bothered by someone being abrupt, or chatty, or driven by our feelings, we assume that others aren’t either and because we don’t adapt ourselves to the situation, our message goes unheard.
When we instead try to understand others and observe the way others like to communicate, we increase the likelihood that our message will be received because we can deliver our message in such a way that it appeals to our listeners. Doing this becomes our secret weapon for being heard and minimizing conflicts.
It has come as a great shock to me that the majority of the people who walk through the doors of our communication seminars were sent there by someone else. Nearly 80% of the time, the people I’m working with have been told that they’re too blunt and need to learn to communicate with more tact. The funny thing is that most of these folks don’t see anything wrong with the way they’re communicating. To them, there isn’t a lot of time for chit-chat and rapport building. They need to just get the facts out an move on. When they’re dealing with other people just like they, this is no big deal. They appreciate the fact that their communication partner doesn’t mince words and values time. The problem arises when they communicate with people who aren’t like they are; people who don’t feel valued unless they other person takes the time to talk with them. When one person prefers bullet points and the other prefers a conversational style, conflict will always arise and one person will be called blunt.
The only way around this situation is to adapt our styles to the people with whom we’re speaking and treat others the way they want to be treated. This means when we talk with the bullet point person, we’re going to just state the facts and we’re not going to ramble. When we’re dealing with talkers, we’re going to slow down, ask more questions and give fewer orders. We’re going to mind hack our relationships and interactions by following their style rather than our own and when we do, our message will be received. It’s a powerful truth that works like magic.