I have read a substantial number of books in the field of communication. The factors that are listed by the authors to define the term “good communication” are almost inexhaustible. Initially, it is a challenge just reading through the various books. However, over time, I began to see a pattern among the facts and start to join the dots.
Today, if I am asked to produce two primary factors leading to good communication (and not techniques, which is another matter altogether), I will say that they are:
- Receptivity to differences: It is important that all of us be adaptable to individuals with varying communicating and working styles. We need to be able to recognise the personalities of such individuals and at times, to accommodate and align our efforts with them. Conflicts often result when we try to impose our working or communication style on others. Of course, we should not comply and change ourselves to suit other’s working or communication style all the time. More often than not, a consensus can be achieved through a face-to-face discussion with the other party.
- Putting ourselves in others’ shoes: This point can be immediately made obvious if we can imagine ourselves as sales personnel and others as our customers. When customers make repeated and at times similar demands, we tend to feel that the customers are unreasonable and demanding. However, if we are to put ourselves in the shoes of the customers, we can see things in a different light. For example, a customer may complain about the long waiting time for their food to arrive. It is very difficult for the staff to understand the customer’s feedback, since the former consider themselves very productive and efficient, having been busy all day preparing food in the back kitchen. However, should the staff place themselves in the shoes of the customers and experience the waiting time, things immediately become clear. Waiting is indeed one of the most gruelling experiences that we have to experience. Just imagine the time when we spend an hour waiting for a friend. Don’t you feel that it’s almost like an eternity?
Therefore, before anger sets in due to a conflict, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of others and empathise while being receptive and accepting of others. Over time, our communication skills improve and more importantly, we will be happier.