Getting the most of out of communication

Getting the most out of CommunicationBy Paul Clifford 

Have you had an experience where, as a result of a conversation with another person, you were left bewildered, frustrated, deflated or even downright angry?  Chances are the other person did one of these five things to cause your reaction.

Talked over the top of you

Every now and again we have a conversation with someone who not only talks too much but when we try to say something, they talk over the top of us.  Now I’m not much of a talker so I like to think that when I want to say something I will be given a chance to say it.  Usually I am more than happy to let the other person do more of the talking.

However, there are some that don’t give us that chance.  Instead the person talks louder over the top of us as an aggressive approach to win back the right to be heard.  There is nothing worse than being on the end of a one sided conversation.

Tip:  For the frequent talkers it is important to be aware of the effect your talking has on the other person.   Just because you are talking doesn’t mean the other person is listening, and the more you talk and the less you allow the other person to talk, the greater the chances your connection with that person will suffer.

Said in 100 words what they could have said in 10       

Aussies are known for cutting words shortHowyagoin? Watchupto? We are also known for short replies to questions.  As the comedian Carl Barren once noted, Australians have a habit of responding in the negative as a quick and effortless response.

Q:  Howyagoin?  A: Not bad.

Q: Watchupto? A: Not much

Q: How much was it? A: Wasn’t cheap

Q: Where is this place? A: Not far

Q: When are we going? A: Not long now.

So don’t you hate it when someone does the opposite and over-explains stuff?   Especially when you are busy.   I believe the art of communication, especially at work, is to get to the point as quickly as possible.  There is simply too much to do in most jobs these days to be listening to long winded and irrelevant responses.

Tip:  For the long winders think about whether all of what you are saying is really as interesting as what you think it is.  Be mindful of the signs others give you that they are really busy and just want the short version.  Particularly when at work it is important to think of the elevator version of your story.  In other words imagine you are in the lift going down five floors and you only have until you get to the bottom to get your message across.  In most cases 30 seconds is all you need to convey the guts of your message.   If you need longer than that check and make sure the other person has the time for further elaboration.

Didn’t acknowledge your message       

It is important for building connections with others that we not only hear what others say but we demonstrate positivity and empathy.  There have been occasions where I have felt like adding a line into the middle of my sentence like “and then the alien attacked the two headed gorilla”, certain that the so called listener wasn’t listening but yet would still nod and say “right” or “aha” trying to pretend they were.

It’s terribly deflating when we feel like the other person doesn’t really care about what we are saying.  On the flip side we are drawn to people who are genuinely interested in what we have to say and respond with positivity and understanding.

Tip: To win friends and influence people show a genuine interest in what they are saying and respond with genuine encouragement.  I include the word genuine because people can tell a mile off if you are faking it and in that case it’s worse than if you weren’t listening at all.

Couldn’t talk seriously or genuinely

One of the things I really don’t like is talking to someone who is incapable of having a serious conversation.  From my experience this constitutes about 20% of males and about 2% of females.  I remember going to a party one evening where I didn’t know anyone and I soon found myself talking to a couple of females.  The conversation flowed very well as we discussed careers, interests and attitudes towards social issues.  Each of the women provided intelligent and real opinions and connections were made.  Then one of the women who I hadn’t spoken to decided that it was odd that I wasn’t talking to the blokes, and so she took me across the room and introduced me to three of the lads.  Well, that was the end of intelligent conversation.  These three were more interested in proving to each other how much of a man they were.  They were only capable of banter and friendly ribbing of each other.  I was bored within the space of a minute.

Tip: If you think you are impressing other people with your stories of how much of a legend you are, you are probably wrong.  The others around you are probably humouring you and are keeping up due to perceived peer pressure.

Only cared about getting their way

You can tell when someone isn’t listening to you.  It’s when you can see their mind ticking over about what they are going to say next.  They are getting ready to tell you why their view is right and they don’t really care what your view is.  This is a sure fire way of perpetuating misunderstanding and lack of agreement and it’s typical of people in dispute.  They become tunnel visioned about their own rightness and the wrongness of any other argument.  They decide their mission is to just keep repeating their view in the mistaken belief that others will eventually accept it.

Tip: Very rarely will you gain agreement by bullying someone to get your way.  You will simply leave the other person more likely to want to oppose you out of spite which will reinforce the positions of parties and make it much harder to reach a mutually agreeable solution.


Communication is certainly not easy but we can get better outcomes if we avoid these pitfalls above.  In short, speak with the communicator in mind.  Get to the point, listen more than you talk, seek to understand and respond positively, seek solutions rather than adopting positions and drop the facade and speak from the heart.  Your relationships with others will improve as a result.

What communication styles irritate you?  Leave a comment below.

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