What is one of the biggest problems in relationships and work? Miscommunication!
We have all been in situations where our texts get misinterpreted, or we misinterpret someone else's. It's wild, from one text, we might believe others are angry, not interested, or they are ignoring us. I know I've thought this before. Communication is most frustrating when people don't communicate the way we like, what goes through our minds? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM!
This article touches on a critical conversation that eliminates stress and saves time, the Communication Conversation.
The communication conversation is where you have a quick discussion to understand how you both communicate and work.
With co-workers, bosses, or direct reports, I recommend discussing four things. The first two are communication preferences and pet peeves, and the second two are work style preferences and pet peeves.
For example, if I were working with someone for the first time, I would say, "let's sit down for a few minutes to discuss each other's preferences and pet peeves so we can best work together. It will enable us to save time and minimize frustration. When would be a good time to discuss this?"
Here is a sample of my preferences and pet peeves.
I would elaborate on why certain things frustrate you. This helps the other person understand rather than get frustrated. For example, if all I said was I don't like instant chat, the other person might easily see this as me being inflexible. However, if I share, I am not a fan of instant chat because the blinking box at the bottom of the computer screen is extremely distracting. Moreover, in the middle of an instant chat conversation, I get frustrated, waiting for drawn-out responses. This explanation will help the other person better understand my pet peeves.
I would end by saying, "Let me pause there and see if there is anything I can further clarify? Alternatively, ask, "Which of these might create tension for you? What are your preferences and pet peeves?"
How many of us have these conversations? Close to zero. Instead, over weeks, months, or longer, we attempt to guess what others prefer. It's like driving without GPS. We would go insane without GPS. By sharing your preferences and understanding others' preferences and pet peeves, you have a map for how to best work together. These conversations eliminate much angst and frustration.
The same goes for the dating world. Next time you are on a first date, I recommend saying something friendly like, "I expect you to text and call me every day, so I know you are interested, GOT IT." Just kidding, I would never say that, this is sarcasm.
However, on a third or fourth date, you may ask. Are you more of a phone, text, in-person, or face time person? What ways do you like to communicate? On our fourth date, my wife asked me, "are you the type of person who stays in touch when you travel, or do you prefer to focus on work?" I was traveling for two weeks, and this eliminated any misunderstanding.
The communication conversation works whether you've known the person forever or recently started working with them. For those you've known forever say, "I recently took a class and learned a new strategy to better understand how to communicate, would you like to talk about it?" Alternatively, "Hey, I am always looking for better ways to work together. I would love to sit down and discuss our communication preferences and pet peeves to save time and minimize frustration. When works for you to discuss?"
When you tell someone you are looking to improve, most people aren't going to say, "That's stupid! Go away!" They will respect you for aspiring to grow. Secondly, they will be open to discussing, especially if there is a benefit for them, such as saving time, reducing stress, or improving future interactions.
Homework: I encourage you to have a communication conversation with 1-2 people over the next week and see what you can learn about yourself and the other. You might be surprised at what you uncover. This conversation will solve any major communication frustrations, and it will provide you with useful tips on how to adapt to the other.