How to communicate to get the outcome you want

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“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it took place said George Bernard Shaw. So very true…… 

..Have you ever talked with someone after a meeting, and wondered if you were actually together in the same room?! How can it be, that 2 people can be part of the same discussion, and yet take out such different understanding? And then consider the negative ripple effect across the organisation, when those two people brief their teams with their different perspectives! 

There are 2 breakthrough thoughts here, which you can harness to be better understood: 

(1) You mean A, you say B, they hear C, they interpret as D! 

We are receiving stimulus all the time, eg in a meeting, what someone says and how they say it. We make meaning from these stimuli / inputs, through our own filters – our values, beliefs, memories, preferences – which have built up unconsciously over our lives. Each of us has a unique past and so a unique set of filters. And so when 2 people hear someone say their piece in a meeting, that information runs through 2 different sets of personal filters, and ends up with 2 separate interpretations! e.g..  

“(s)he never bought in to what we agreed last time, and now (s)he is looking for a way to get out of her responsibilities … â€Â 


“s(he) is struggling to implement what we agreed, and so now is asking us questions to help understand and get confident to go back and try again….â€Â 

The words and tone of the speaker were the same, but the meaning taken out, and the response of the 2 listeners is different.  


We forget 40% of what we hear within 1 hour, and 90% within a week. So when someone starts talking before they know what they are going to say, & spends the next 3 minutes getting to the point, no-one is going to remember it anyway! If you are not understood, your communication will not land. If you have lost people’s attention before you get to the point, your communication will not land. If you do not evoke some emotion, or interest, your communication will be forgotten. 

So, armed with these thoughts, what are some things we can do, to be understood? 

(A) Think what are the filters of the key people in the room. What are their values, beliefs, when have you seen them most passionate, most dejected? And what are your own filters – what are you assuming about the people in the room, this group; do you start from a negative mindset about some people, and positive about others? How does that show, and what can you learn from it? Now that you are mindful of people’s filters, how can you best bring across your key points so that they will take out the meaning you want? 

(B) Have a positive outcome in mind. What positive outcome do you want from this discussion? Design your input to the discussion to achieve that outcome; not to sound clever, or be playful, or just to be seen to be taking part! Speak less, speak clearly, and as you speak look around the room and look people in the eye. 

(C) Really listen! Listen to understand. Listen with your ears and your eyes! Ask questions to understand and to encourage, not to look smart. Often a great question, will lead to more understanding, than yet another statement. Never interrupt! To interrupt is to assume what you have to say is more important than the person speaking; and they know it!  

So much time is spent with people sending information, rather than thinking what message they want to land & designing their communication to achieve the outcome they want. The meaning of your communication is the response you get. The great communicators you know have learnt to really listen, to understand & harness people’s filters, and to communicate with a positive outcome in mind. You can do this too. 

Peter Soer
Peter Soer
Peter combines experience as a coach, marketing leader & someone who has faced the fear of being found out. He harnesses this experience with his natural optimism & determination, to help people thrive in their work and enjoy the life they want. To achieve our dreams, we have 2 resources, time and energy – so use them well.

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