Communication is the transfer of information from sender to receiver. And just like with a radio station, there can be noise on the line. What types of noise are there and how do you turn it off?
We all have to deal with this type of noise at almost every moment. In an office we hear colleagues talking, the phone ringing, fingers typing on keyboards. But noises from outside and visual stimuli can also distract and interrupt a conversation. Fortunately, this type of noise is also the easiest to turn off, simply by finding a quieter place. Do you notice that you can’t concentrate 100% on the conversation, or do you see that the other person has difficulty with this? Then sit in a meeting room, or another place where there is less distraction.
The use of technical terms can prevent the other person from being able to ‘decode’ your message. Your message may arrive, but it will not be understood. Jargon can create distance between you and the other. Therefore, before you start your conversation, empathize with the other person; does this person know as much about your field as you do? If not, try to use terms that the other person recognizes, or briefly explain the jargon terms. Also pay close attention to non-verbal cues to check whether the other person has understood you. Or just ask whether the other person understood it well.
According to communication scientist Mehrabian, 55% of our communication is non-verbal. However, we are often unaware of our body language, which can create a mismatch between your non-verbal and verbal messages. This type of noise makes it difficult for the listener to interpret your message. Changing something you are not aware of is difficult. Therefore, start raising awareness with a small exercise; do regular body checks 3 times a day. Check your posture at such a moment (upright vs. down, open vs. closed), what do you do with your hands and what gestures do you make? What kind of expression do you have? Think about what messages you send with your body language in these moments. Do this in conversations as well and practice matching your body language with what you say.
In your next conversation, turn off at least 1 of these noise factors. Experience what it does to the connection with your conversation partner.
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