It is no secret that communication is essential to a healthy relationship. Nevertheless, we engage in behavior that creates communication barriers. We often act in ways that undermine our relationships and disconnect us from the people we work with and care about. Here are some common barriers to communication to watch out for. We call them The 10 Disconnectors:
1. Allowing your emotions to speak for you.
Emotions can hijack a conversation. Unless you manage them, strong emotions bypass the logical part of the brain and cause you to react and speak before thinking. Strong emotions do not want patience, precision, or perspective . . . all of which is necessary for effective teaming and productive relationships of any kind.
2. Caring more about yourself than the other person or the team.
Communicating and connecting is all about finding what is important to the other person. On a team or in a relationship, it is never successful when a person care more about himself/herself than other people. Never.
3. Assuming that you understand and failing to really listen.
It is easy to jump to conclusions without getting all the information. Sometimes we think we understand, when in fact we don't. People are complex and situations are complex. There is always more to the story. Even if you think you know, focus on listening and understanding.
4. Rushing a conversation that needs more time.
Effective communication is not an event. It is a process. It takes time to connect with others and exchange ideas and information. Give conversations the time they need to be done well.
5. Trying to avoid conflict or discomfort.
Conflict is a natural and necessary part of every relationship and team. In a relationship, you're made stronger by acknowledging and dealing productively with challenges, not by avoiding them. Put the issues on the table and talk about them. You shouldn't enjoy difficult conversations, but you should be good at them.
6. Withholding or distorting information to make yourself look better.
Teamwork is about sharing, not hiding or manipulating. Building great relationships thrives on open communication of thoughts, ideas, and information. When people see you spin information to make yourself look better, it creates disconnection and distrust. No hidden agendas.
7. Bringing a cynical or negative mindset from the beginning.
The attitude you bring to a conversation will determine the quality of the conversation. If your mindset is full of cynicism & negativity, it is not likely you will care, listen, or communicate well. And you certainly won't connect. If you want to connect, get your mind right.
8. Using a style that doesn't connect with the other person.
People have different styles of communicating and interacting with others. You must be willing and able to flex you way you communicate. Don't get stuck in your style. Rigidity will get you into trouble. Flexibility will help you connect. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.
9. Hearing what you want to hear.
We listen selectively. There is a strong tendency to listen for confirming information and ignore any information that doesn't fit with what we believe. We hear what want to hear rather than what is actually said. The bottom line is that if you don't listen, you won't connect.
10. Not putting in the effort necessary for real communication.
In today's accelerated, rapidly moving world it is easy to get lazy about communication. Connecting with others is a skill that requires focus & discipline. You have to work at it. If you do not put in the effort, you will not get the results. You don't get the relationships you want. You get the relationships you build.