I guess everybody does it; sitting on a terrace and watching other people’s behavior? I love it, especially when something happens of which you know the outcome before it occurs. 🙂
I knew when I heard the elderly couple arguing about which way to go, he would have it his way and she would be right in the end. So she reluctantly followed him and after 100 meter plus another argument they turned around and passed us again going in the opposite direction.
It wasn’t a very effective communication between couples. He didn’t want to listen to her and was only focused on having it his way. She was obviously not capable of talking to him in a way that would convince him without giving him the idea he was stupid.
Taking each other for granted
The biggest problem concerning communication is either the desire to change each other or taking each other for granted and therefore not listening carefully enough.
When my son befriended a girl with a smoking addiction, he remarked “She will stop if she loves me enough”. Of course that didn’t happen.
When Tom and I met each other we were really young – 15 when we met, 19 when we got in a relationship with each other – and I too thought he would change the things I didn’t like. We have known each other for over 50 years now and although it took some time, ever since I skipped the idea of pushing Tom into my mold and honestly listening to what he says, we don’t bicker anymore.
Some people treat strangers nicer than their own spouse and that is a kind of behavior I really hate. Habits easily creep in and in communicating with each other it’s important to stay patient and nice.
Willing to listen to each other
We have 2 ears and 1 mouth. This is a nice indication how we should go about in our communication. Listen twice as much to the other person than talk. Don’t you catch yourself at times you are busy formulating your story for when it’s your turn instead of listening to the rest your partner is telling?
When we emigrated to Spain and left our old friends behind, I realized how much of our conversation is based on what we think we know. Our new connections approached us neutrally and things that we thought were obvious to everyone needed to be explained. This had a huge impact on our own communication between one another.
There is a lot of culturally determined obviousness in our communication. Tom and I are both Dutch and grew up in the same town, so we literally speak the same language. Our son is married to a Spanish girl that spent her childhood in Colombia, so they have to deal with cultural differences.
I realized this all the more when I invited a new neighbor for a coffee. For us Dutchies inviting someone for coffee, means you want them to have a drink with you in the morning. It doesn’t have to be coffee, it can be tea as well. She suggested 6pm. For us that would be the time to have an aperitif. Next time I won’t use the word coffee, but ask if someone wants to come in the morning! 🙂
Apart from the time we have spent together and our culture, we also have a different character and upbringing. As a result we all have a different communication style. Communication experts have made their own classification and we can learn a lot from those differences.
Those classifications are not meant to turn us around into a different style, but to give us more understanding of other people. Once we know that people don’t intently misunderstand us, but just have a different filter on their ears, we can use other words and a different tone of voice to say exactly the same as before with more results.
In a seminar I once attended 4 communication types were described. The funniest part of the day were the plays that we performed as groups of the same type. The subject of the play was “How does your ideal meeting look like”.
For the watchers it was hilarious, because we just couldn’t believe the ones on the stage really thought they were communicating effectively with each other. But since we all performed in a play, it gave a big understanding of what it means to have different communication styles.
- Promoter, is always full of new ideas and wants to do everything, as long as it is fun. They make connections easily, but are also quickly bored. They are easily persuaded to do something if it’s presented as a fun event. ‘Let’s do this together’;
- Controller, has goals and doesn’t want to waste time. They come to the point quickly, no chit chat. Their attitude can seem very abrupt, especially for promoters.’This event will take you half an hour and this is the address’;
- Analyzer, wants everything to be accurate and precise. They’re the ones that will note a typo right away and hate making mistakes themselves. They won’t say anything anymore if someone upsets them. ‘The event will be attended by 100 people, you will have time to ask questions and you will get a summary’;
- Supporter, above all, wants everyone to feel good and comfortable. They value love and friendship the most. As long as everyone feels good, it’s okay for them, but they don’t want to be forced. ‘If you want, you can go to that event’.
For the plays, every group had 15 minutes. To give an idea how it went:
- The promoters couldn’t agree on the way to handle the meeting. They were loud and all talked at the same time. It was complete chaos and part of the group got so bored with the others they started their own meeting at the other side of the stage;
- The controllers had their meeting done in 10 minutes. They had agreed on forehand who was the chairperson and listened to each other;
- The analyzers were talking quietly with soft voices. They pointed out the mistakes in the minutes of the previous sitting and lost themselves completely in irrelevant details (irrelevant to others, that is);
- The supporters never got to the agenda, because they kept talking about holidays and films, and were surprised when the 15 minutes were gone. All the time they talked about their feelings and wanted to know how others were feeling.
Mind you, rarely anyone is exactly that type for 100%, there are nuances.
My first introduction to NLP came in a book of Tony Robbins. NLP means Neuro Linguistic Programming. It has a negative connotation for some people, because the object of NLP can be to influence people. Hypnosis is also mentioned a lot in connection with NLP.
It is my strong conviction you can use NLP also for the good. It can mean you have a better understanding of other people and their behavior. And by listening carefully to the type of words people use you can distinguish them from each other.
The types described are:
- Visual, prefer looking at images. These can be real images, but also a visual way of describing. ‘I see what you mean’;
- Auditory, like hearing the most. ‘I hear what you mean;
- Kinesthetic, prefer a physical approach. ‘I feel what you mean’.
I used the B.A.N.K. method for some time when I had my business in the Netherlands. It’s a very quick way to discover the style of someone. I had 4 cards and asked prospects and clients to put them in order of their preference, based on the values that are written on the cards.
The basic idea is that 2 of the 4 types are dominant and the other 2 are usually types that we don’t get along with.
It looks a lot like what I learned from Open Circles. For example, it made me get along better with my son, who is a true Promoter/Action type. For me as a Controller/Knowledge type that has been difficult, until I understood how it functions.
Knowing a communication style doesn’t mean you instantly know how to address people best. That takes practice. But knowing there are different styles can make us very aware of what is going on in conversations.
Communication is not what we say, it’s how we say it. In addition, it means listening carefully to each other and paying attention to our body language. Effective communication between couples is listening intently to each other, because it is tempting to think we know each other so well that we no longer pay close attention.
Having an idea of what communication type your conversation partner has, gives you more chances of communicating effectively. A conversation is not about who is right, but about what we want to achieve.
Do you have an idea what communication style you have? Tell us in the comment box.