You can’t really take back something once it has been said. The effect must inevitably remain. No form of communication is simple. Because of the number of variables involved, even simple requests are extremely complex. Theorists note that whenever we communicate there are really at least six ‘people’ involved: 1) who you think you are; 2) who you think the other person is; 3) who you think the other person thinks you are; 4) who the other person thinks /she is; 5) who the other person thinks you are; and 6) who the other person thinks you think s/he is.
We don’t actually swap ideas; we swap symbols that stand or ideas. This also complicates communication. Words (symbols) do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways, and no two people use the same word exactly alike.
Osmo gives us some communication maxims similar to Murphy’s law:
• If communication can fail, it will.
• If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.
• There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.
• The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.
These tongue-in-cheek maxims are not real principles; they simply humorously remind us of the difficulty of accurate communication.
Just like these maxims, there are several tips for making interpersonal communication a success. Listen first. Communication is a two-way process; getting your message across depends on understanding the other person.
Be interested in the people you are communicating with. Remember people are more attracted to those who are interested in them, and will pay more attention to what they are saying.
Be relaxed. Bad body language such as hunched shoulders, fidgeting, toe-tapping or hair-twiddling all give the game away. Smile and use eye contact. It’s the most positive signal you can give.
Ask questions. It’s a great way to show people that you are really interested in them. If the other person has a different point of view to yourself find out more about why they have that point of view.
The more you understand the reasons behind their thinking the more you can understand their point of view or help them to better understand your point of view be assertive. By this we mean try to value their input as much as your own. Don’t be pushy and don’t be a pushover. Try for the right balance.
When you are speaking try to be enthusiastic when appropriate. Use your voice and body language to emphasis this. Don’t immediately try to latch onto something someone has just said “oh yes that happened to me” and then immediately go on and tell your story.
Make sure you ask enough questions of them first and be careful when / if you give your story so as not just to sound like it’s a competition. Learn from your interactions. If you had a really good conversation with someone try and think why it went well and remembers the key points for next time. If it didn’t go so well try again and learn something from it.
So, next time when you sit to chat with someone, take care that you remember the maxims of interpersonal communication and make your communication effective enough to bowl over the listener.