1) Listen more.
2) Talk less.
The truth of these two rules was reflected to me in a management training class a couple of years ago. We sent out advance surveys to 10 co-workers to get their feedback on our strengths and “areas for improvement.”
On the day of the workshop the facilitator posted everyone’s results, without names, on the wall for the whole class to see. We were supposed to pick out our profile by reading selected comments on each sheet. I guessed correctly on which profile was mine, and was pleased to see several strengths recognized by my colleagues.
Then the workshop leader revealed the other side of the coin… comments that were not so positive on the same traits. For example, one person said “David is a passionate and articulate presenter. Another said “David just loves to hear himself talk.”
Many of you may not be shocked by this at all, but I was. After recovering from the temporary upset (how dare they not appreciate my passion!), I became appreciative of that person’s honesty. We rarely get honest, constructive feedback unless we ask for it. And even then, you have to pull it out of people. It took an anonymous survey to impress on me that sometimes I talk too much and do not respect other’s time in the workplace.
Now I make a concerted effort to stop and check the attention of my listeners, even when I think I’m on a roll. After all, it’s not really communication unless it is being received by my audience. I have also cultivated the habit of asking how I can improve, even if someone pays me a compliment.
Ever wonder what your family, friends and peers would say about your communication strengths and not-so-strong strengths? Maybe it’s time to just ask.
And if you do, get ready to have the question sent right back at you.
If there was a love button I would have selected this because I LOVED this blog post. I truly enjoyed how you showed that depending on the person you can get opposite feedback. The question now remains which feedback should you take into account. You know you can get to the point in your life that you have accepted so much feedback that you aren’t true to yourself. So I say take feedback with a grain of salt and stay authentic.
Faith, my answer to your question is that both pieces of feedback are correct, and underscores the importance of adjusting to every situation, and every person or group you communicate with. They key to adjusting is listening, and the key to listening is stopping every now and then. Easier said than done for some 🙂
I am really struggling with the communication piece at work. Have you done Strength Finders? Communication is one of my top five strengths. Since I’m a writer and am one of the most requested speakers in the nonprofit community in my town, I think I have some skills in that area.
Just like you, I’ve realized that if my audience (my supervisor) does not like the way I communicate, it does not matter how passionate I am. And makes for a raft of frustration all the way around.
Thanks for your thoughtful blog posts!
I have been super busy lately (selling my business) but I took the time to read this and I am glad I did! We can all use feed back, because different people see us differently! Now if we could just give our spouses anonymous feedback we could help couples get along better and see what kind of spouse we really are.! It reminded me to REALLY LISTEN more,and talk less!
David, I am truly and happily caught up in the communication genre of life. The guiding force for success is the same all over. All you need is love and keep in mind love is an act of our will. That means choosing to give whenever there is a choice to be made. That means giving time to those who provide feedback, giving information to those who are listening and giving up our right to be right in some cases. For me nothing is more important than a person doing what they love. And like you, for me, that is talking. Feedback that does not allow us to talk without second guessing ourselves really stifles our need to do what we love. When I say “caught up” I mean that feedback, like most things, only serve as something for me to talk about. And the one other thing feedback does is give the “feedbacker” an opportunity to be heard, which all of us need even more than we need feedback.
Thank you for this post. It, too, gives me something to talk about.
Loved your message. I think I should take a print out and stick in my office to see it each day.Wonderful Listen more and Talk less!