• Christina Mendelson

Sometimes you have to shut the hell up to truly communicate

Communication is not about listening with the intent to reply, but instead with the intent to understand.

In 2014 I traveled to Brazil to watch a world cup match. It was one of the best trips I have taken and yet one of the toughest.

I knew nothing about the Portuguese language and was striking out when it came to communicating with all the new people I was meeting. However if we are being honest, I have to admit I was trying too hard. I was so worried about myself; how did I sound, what was I trying to say, am I doing it incorrectly, and I forgot about the most important part of the whole conversation…. The person in front of me.

It was the night of the match, the game was over and a group of people we met went out for celebration burgers. There was a girl with the group that I wanted to talk to but we just weren't making it happen. Finally I was so sick of the awkward silence, I got up to play music. Journey’s “ Don’t stop believing” of course came on the radio and that was it; we clicked. Both the girl and I broke out into song belting every single word. We sang, we laughed, we danced, and we finally got what we both wanted….. We felt understood.

Communication in any situation can be tough, because we try to communicate from the way we understand and not from the way the person in front of us does. We forget to get to know them first, to get to know how they communicate, and to try and understand what they want us to hear. This is one of the reasons you will not make the sale.

You wont make the sale, because you forgot about them. You thought about what you need in the conversation whether that’s the money or simply the information. Communication is a strategy.

Here are 4 ways to improve your communication:

  • Listening is essential: Just like the old school “ can you hear me now” commercials. However, there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is passive and requires nothing of you to participate. But listening requires concentration and attention. You must consciously choose to listen.

  • Ditch the distractions: Put down the phone, laptop, turn off the TV or whatever it is you are doing that might distract you from giving the other person your undivided attention. Not only does this help you pay attention, but it shows the person in front of you that you’re focused on them and what they have to say.

  • Don’t finish their sentence for them: I used to be the queen of speaking over people. I know it can be tempting to help people when they are struggling to finish an idea, but please avoid the temptation. When you finish another person’s sentence, you take their power away in the conversation and this never feels good.

  • Consider who you are talking to: For example, if you are talking to your sister it’s ok to use informal language, including slang. If you are talking to a potential client, keep it professional and match their energy. To sum this up, simply try and keep the other person’s perspective in mind in order to best connect with them.

Learning and implementing effective communication skills can not only help you when you travel but also assist you in prospering in life. Knowing how to effectively communicate is a crucial part of improving your relationships and your customer experience. Communication is a strategy and it’s your job to be present in your communication process.

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