Lunch and Learn with Lindsay – Issue 6: One size does not fit all: Tailoring your communication

When it comes to communication one size does not fit all.  Tailoring your communication is key to creating and maintain the very best working relationship with your colleague – and it’s a lot easier to do than you think!

Austrian playwright, poet and author Alfred Brendel said the words “listen” and “silent” contain the same letters.  And that’s your starting point to successfully tailor your communication. You need to listen.  Really listen.

And it’s not just listening with your ears – it’s listening with your eyes – “notice what you notice” so that you can match your colleague’s style of communication.  It’s true that “people like people who are like themselves” and your colleague will feel more in tune with you and on the same wavelength if you can match their style.

✔ What words/terminology is your colleague using? Use their key words in your communication.  This keeps the conversation “clean” – you’re not dirtying it with your own favoured words.  It demonstrates that you’ve really understood what someone has shared with you, that you’ve truly heard what they’ve said.  (and remember, we all attribute different meanings to words too)

You colleague says:  “Now I’m working from home, I’m really struggling with devising a routine to my working day….”

You say  “Tell me what you’re particularly struggling with and what can I do to help you to devise a routine to your working day?” (matching words galore!)

Rather than

“So, what help do you need from me to set a pattern to your day?” (only one matching word!)

✔ Does your colleague use long sentences with lots of detail? Or do they use short, bulleted more direct language?   If you were to ask your colleague about their day would you still be in conversation 20 minutes later – or would they give you a more direct, succinct response?  Ensure your sentence structure matches that of your colleague.

✔ What speed of delivery is your colleague using?  What’s the volume of their voice like? If your colleague speaks more slowly than you, match their pace of delivery.  If they speak more quietly than you, soften your own voice to match.

✔ What body language and facial expressions do you notice when your colleague is sharing something with you?   Subtly match their mannerisms – if they nod their head and smile in conversation, do the same.

✔ Maintaining eye contact at the same level is one simple yet effective connection technique.  This is obviously negated at the moment with the reliance on online/virtual comms – but if you are in the same physical space as someone else – 2m maintained of course – if they are sitting, you sit.  If they are standing, you stand. 

With regards


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