The final exercise that I teach my clients to help improve their communicational skills is to play word games. I usually put the clients in a circle and I ask them to say a really long essay. Usually the essay would be about 2000 words. I would ask them to pick a random word that the others do not know about, and once they read the essay they say that word with a slightly different tone without stopping. The key to this task is to make sure that the person who is reading out doesn’t change their tone or cadence throughout the entire essay apart from that singular word.
This is such a key exercise for my clients for two reasons. One, it requires the clients who are listening to sit through a half an hour essay without breaking any concentration to make sure that they can accurately pin point and then remember the word that was spoken in a different tone. The level of concentration that it takes to consistently listen and understand every word that is being said without breaking that concentration is difficult. I actually did this exercise with the best builders Manchester have, so please check them out if you can!
What is even harder is basically asking a client to perform a mini monologue in front of other clients and having them keep the concentration required to ensure they can say 1,999 words in the exact same effect and 1 word slightly different but different enough to be noticeable. It’s as difficult as it sounds but it is so much fun once the game is over. And what is even more surprising is if someone guesses the word correctly. The point isn’t to win the game; the point is to have everyone understand how important the communication to the group is for everyone involved. You should try this game with your work colleagues if you have trouble communicating, but try it with fewer words!
The most obvious thing about communication is that it is between two parties, not one. That is why you need to remember that it isn’t about what you think is being said, but it is instead about you listening to what the other person wants to say. That may sound simple and almost basic in information, but that little aspect alone is what is so easily forgotten by those who have communicational issues.
It’s easier as a person to attribute the words or what is being said by a person from what you already understand, as it makes your life easier when it comes to everything. You never have to leave your comfort zone or your basic bubble of knowledge if you always assume that people ask you to do things that you already know how to do. But that is why asking questions is so important when you are given a task, or if you are giving someone else a task. Asking questions to make sure you understand, or asking questions to make sure that the other understands is so key to making sure the said task is completed properly.
Little misunderstandings will always be a part of life, because there is nothing you are able to do about fixing something that you don’t already know. That’s so common with misunderstandings because it requires both of your brains to decide that something was mistakenly heard. That is why you should always ask questions during communication. It helps lay out the basic information for both parties before moving forward.
I know this might sound stupid, but the next time you have a conversation you should truly try to ask as many questions as you can. You would be surprised on how much you would be able to learn, and how much you have missed out in the past.
One interesting game that I play to help people understand better is a fun form of Chinese whispers. I put noise cancelling headphones on them, and I then silently mouth a sentence to them. I give them as long as they can to understand or at least try to understand and guess the sentence that I am mouthing to them. You would be surprised at how many different vowels and words a single mouth movement would look like. You could try to mouth “you” and you would then hear 1,000 different words and sounds that they thought it could have been over the word “you”. That is the biggest and clearest example I show people to prove how easy it is to misunderstand someone.
I then ask them to be the one to mouth a sentence to me to prove how ridiculously easy it is to misunderstand on my side. Once they hear the many different words and versions of the sentence they asked me, they find it hilarious to think that someone could get a sentence so wrong. But the point of the exercise isn’t to have a few laughs and decide that misunderstanding is easy. The point of the exercise is to help the other participant improve their understanding by racking through a thought process that tries to dismantle the words that are being said.
One you are able to use your mind to break down everything it saw and thought it saw, you realise that communication is a thousand series of patterns. The different ways the mouth can move and the different expressions that are being shown in the face. The difference expressions of emotion all convey just a singular word or thought and teaching the break to break down that process is such a wonderful way to understand better.
I want to make this post specifically to non-builders, as I am sure you have been in the same circumstance yourself. Have you ever had someone ask you what seemed to be a simple task such as a piece of content they had wanted written, and once you had handed them a finished product you then find out you had it completely incorrect? The chances are that you have, because it’s one of the most natural things in the world to hear what you think is being said, rather than what is actually being said. After all, it’s our own mind that absorbs and breaks down information that we hear.
This is an all too familiar thing that happens day to day. Your ears will absorb soundwaves and break it down into a manageable way for your brain to process, but processing it does not necessarily mean an accurate processing of information. Rather, you just processed the information in a way that your brain could adequately break down and understand. That key system is the difference between understanding and misunderstanding, and it cannot be understated enough just how important it is to understand a key task before you start to move towards any direction.
That is why I am dedicated towards building that communication on building sites and in offices. It doesn’t matter where I will be teaching people to understand and communicate better. What truly matters to me is that the message is reached and people who are unable to improve on their own can receive the help that they need. It’s a truly difficult thing to overcome, as once you make too many mistakes misunderstanding people within a working environment, people start to think you are a liability. You aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you are faultless within the process either.
Drink Act Builders is a blog that I have decided to set up that is completely based upon the principle that the best way to ensure a high health and safety standard within the workplace is to make sure there is good communication between all builders on the worksite. The secondary objective of the blog is to ensure that management maintains a good level of communication with their own employees. As someone who has worked on many building sites with various companies throughout the years, I know all too well how little communication there can be at times with management and employees. That is something that comes as a detriment to those who wish to complete the tasks they are set to the best of their ability.
I think lack of communication (or at the very least, failure to communicate to a reasonable degree) is one of the most damaging factors to any company. It’s almost like a disease that is built within the company’s heart that is difficult to see most of the time as nobody is aware that they are communicating poorly. If you are asking someone to complete a task or at the very least trying to explain the task to them, more often or not you would think that you are successful within your endeavour. The chances are however, that you haven’t been and that here has been some kind of misunderstanding or something that wasn’t explained as well as it could have been.
This is something that is so difficult to remedy without someone on the other side of it. Someone needs to be a mediator to a conversation so they can try to pick up on what you are explaining, reflect on it and then question if you conveyed what you were trying to convey. Otherwise, you are the communicational issue.