There I was again. Roped into being a translator between two people who could not get along. Everything one person said would trigger the other person to react defensively and vice versa. They were speaking and listening but clearly not communicating.
“So what Jane is trying to say is… [remove accusations and value judgements from Jane’s comments]”
“What Jack means by that is… [reword Jack’s concerns without being defensive or bringing up past offenses]”
It’s these types of conversations where people seemed to be speaking different languages (and where I was acting as the translator!) that got me interested in communication. That interest led to this podcast about interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.
Interpersonal communication is the people skill that separates the good from the great performers, the leaders from the managers and creates rich social relationships that make life worth living. It is a critical skill which is as challenging to master as humans are complex.
Humans have survived despite being smaller, slower and weaker than almost any other animal because we are able to work together.
Humans have worked out how to trust each other in a way that is unrivalled in the animal kingdom. I trust you enough to help you or give you something you need because I know that you will help me or give me what I need at another time. In modern times, we call this trust money. When trust is particularly high, we call it friendship.
So as we’ve learnt to cooperate, we’ve created a world where we are all interconnected. We cannot get what we need without interaction. On a practical level, we need to interact to meet our physical needs (such as buying groceries). But we are driven to this behaviour on an emotional level with the need to belong. We have become conditioned to crave connection and, in its highest form, love.
Research has consistently shown that having high quality social relationships is the single largest factor impacting our happiness. The quality of our relationships are determined by our ability to communicate effectively and openly. Improving our inter-personal communication amplifies our effectiveness in every area of life. It makes us better partners, parents, friends, leaders, employees and neighbours.
When our communication is effective we understand the people around us and we can express ourselves in a way that is understood. We can help others as they would like to be helped and we can influence people to help meet our own needs or the needs of the group.
We have access to vast amounts of information and training courses that can help us to communicate better. Learning more about interpersonal communication is helpful, but equally important is to learn about ourselves and the people we interact with. When we speak, the meaning we try to express is filtered through our own knowledge and experiences but the person listening is filtering our words through their knowledge and experiences. The listener can interpret our words with an entirely different meaning than we intended. Our ability to communicate effectively is not just determined by what we know about communication, but by what we know about people (including ourselves!).
In this podcast we’ll discuss the techniques that help us to communicate more effectively, but we’ll also delve into areas such as psychology, neuroscience and emotional intelligence that explain how our fears, beliefs and biases impact interpersonal communication. It’s our fears, beliefs and biases that cause misunderstandings that undermine relationships: they make us defensive in arguments; make us think we’re right when we’re wrong and make us treat people differently without realising. If we want to communicate more effectively we cannot rely on communication techniques alone. We need to shine a light on our perceptions of other people and ourselves. The best way to understand ourselves and others are to have honest conversations that lean into the discomfort of evaluating our unconscious beliefs.
Join us, Mark and Divan, as we host wide-ranging conversations that intrigue, inform and inspire us. These conversations will deepen our understanding of interpersonal communication and broaden our perspectives on the human stuff that gets in the way. We hope these conversations will help you to build stronger, more authentic connections at work and at home.