What’s the number one obstacle that I see when it comes to personal relationships?
You guessed it, bad communication. That’s why we revisit this subject so often, because it’s something we have to continually work on.
There are habits, or learned behaviors, that we all have that can get in the way of real communication. Simple things that you may not even realize you’re doing can choke the information you’re sending or receiving!
On today’s podcast, we’ll dig into the garden and discuss three of the most common weeds that we find choking our communication with others.
438 | Cultivating Real Communication, Part 2
Joel Fortner, Chris LoCurto
Chris LoCurto 00:00
The weeds in your garden that are keeping you from clarity in your communication, that is coming up next.
Chris LoCurto 00:16
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.
Chris LoCurto 00:28
Hey folks, hope you're having a fabulous week; question for you: How's your garden coming along? That doesn't sound weird at all. Of course, I'm talking about the garden of communication, that we've been dealing with, the weeds that get in the way of great communication. Now, last week, we got as far as weed number one, which was that our position with other people, informs our disposition towards them. So if I'm always focused on my position, what do I care about yours? Right? If I'm somebody who's incredibly self-protective or defensive, I'm really not gonna care about your position, right?
If I'm somebody who's losing worth, in the situation, in the communication in relationship, I'm not gonna care about your position. But if I'm going to get to clarity, then many times I need to remove myself from my position and try and put myself in your position. So this can be a very dangerous thing when we hold on to weed number one, which is our position. So onto weed number two, which is our intention.
Now, Stephen Covey says, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply." Oh, my gosh, that is so incredibly true. Now, that's not everybody. There's many of us that actually spend time listening to people, some of us do it for a living, to understand, to grow, to learn, to gain better perspective. And I'm not saying that I haven't listened to reply.
I've had many of those situations in my life as well. But here's what we need to understand. When we're listening to reply, we're not listening to the other person. Yes, we're hearing the words that they're saying, Yes, we know what they're roughly talking about. But what we're listening for, is to inject us.
Is to give wisdom or knowledge or opinion or criticism or whatever, right? So when you're listening to others in a relationship, and your intention is that you're listening so that you can give information, then you're not listening for clarity, you're not focusing on having the best possible communication, you're focusing on what you get to say. Another thing is, is that when we're not listening intentionally, we're spending time formulating a response.
Think about this. If you're focusing on being able to inject your information, then you're also coming up with it while you're listening. So instead of being able to actually give quality input or get quality clarity, what you're focusing on is formulating a response, as they're still talking, which means you're really not listening very well to the thing that they're saying. If it's about you giving information, then it's definitely not about you getting information.
Think about that for a second. If we're not going to get clarity and communication, do you think your inputs gonna help? Do you think you just waiting to respond is actually going to bring greater clarity? No, it is not. Another thing is when we are not listening with the intention to gain clarity and communication, many times we're insisting on our opinions, instead of gaining quality perspective from the other person, because our intention is to reply, our focus becomes incredibly on what our opinions are. Many times those are our criticisms as well. Ouch.
Think about that, right? If you're somebody who listens, to criticize, well, then there's a really good chance you're not benefiting the communication at all. So this is all selfish, and it impairs our ability to understand what's really being communicated. So without clarity and understanding, we allow misunderstanding to grow.
Now, Stephen Covey continues by saying, "If I were to summarize, in one sentence, the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: seek first to understand, then, to be understood." When we come back, we're gonna hit weed number three right up to this.
Joel Fortner 05:27
Hey, it's Joel Fortner here. I'm the Vice President of leadership development on Chris's team, and I oversee our Next Level Mastermind business coaching program. Most business owners and leaders lack a clear path to succeed in business. They question whether they're making the right decisions, if they're focusing on the right things to really grow their business. If this is you, you need a coach in your life.
Coaches help you make better decisions, navigate uncertainty, lead more effectively, and grow your business without sacrificing your life and your family. In their first year, our clients typically see an average of 67% increase in gross revenue, and an average of 138% increase in net profit, and regained hours of time. Our clients stay in the program for three and a half years simply because of the results that get. So if you're ready to run your business at the next level, and see the growth you've been wanting, then visit chrislocurto.com/mastermind. Again, chrislocurto.com/mastermind today.
Chris LoCurto 06:28
All right, weed number three. If we are going to cultivate our garden, we got to get these weeds out. We got to fix these things, if we're going to make sure that we have clarity and communication. Number three is our attention. So misunderstanding is just one form of confusion that breeds other weeds.
Think about that. Weeds distract us from the question that is being asked or the context that it's already in. I cannot tell you how many times-and I've done this myself-but I cannot tell you how many times I've been communicating to somebody, and they are really not focused on the thing that I'm saying. There are certain people I will watch that if I'm talking to and they're on their phone, then I will say, "I need your attention, please." "Oh, you've got my attention." "Okay, when you're done doing what you're doing, then I can continue with this."
Right? There are times that you will see somebody is writing something, or they're working on their computer, or, or, or, whatever it is, and their full attention is not on you. Well, that is usually- if the information is important that's usually when I will just wait. I'll just stop talking and wait until I have their actual attention.
Why? Because in my many years of communicating to people, there have been many times that somebody has been distracted, while telling me that I have their attention only to find out later on they forgot, they didn't understand, or they never heard the thing that I said. There are times that I could go back and go, "What did you do with the thing about the thing? And you know, we talked about this." "We didn't talk about that." "Yeah, no, we sure did." "No, we didn't. We never talked about that." "No, we did, you just happened to have been on your phone when we talked about it. So next time, let's make sure you're not on your phone."
That has happened many times and guilty as charged. There have been plenty of times that I have done that myself. If we are distracted, then we have an attention deficit. This is a huge weed in most people's communication. Not only that, but it's rude.
Chris LoCurto 08:57
It is incredibly rude. Now, again, I will tell you, in my early days of leadership, when I was running just 90 to nothing, nonstop meetings, meetings, events, all kinds of stuff, all day long, into the night, working on the weekends, working like crazy, just couldn't stop. I would tell people, "Hey, listen, when you come in to talk to me, if I'm working on something, I've got my door open, you can come in and talk to me.
But if you really need my attention, come grab me by the face and say I need you to focus on this." Right? So there was many times people would come in and just want to say hi or, you know, give me information on something. And you know, in those early days, I would keep working. I did keep working. Because it wasn't something that needed me to stop and focus on them. But when they needed my attention, then they need to say, "Hey, can I get your attention for a second?" "Yes, absolutely. What do you got?" "This, this and this." "Okay, fantastic. Great."
But if I did not give them the right to say, "I need your attention." Then what could happen is, they could tell me something very important. And if I wasn't paying great attention to it, I missed it. Right? The distraction is an attention deficit. We teach our team to train their focus on what's actually going on in the conversation. It shouldn't be on something else. It shouldn't be on a phone, it shouldn't be on a computer, it shouldn't be on the birds flying by outside. It shouldn't be on any of that stuff. What should it be on?
The other person. Three things that we teach them to do is one, watch the other person's body language, why? This feeds us all kinds of information, anybody who's coming in to Next Level Life, or Stratplan knows, we watch your body language, we're paying attention. Why? Because you're communicating things to us that help us to know where you are in the moment, if we see that you're fidgety, we can say that something that we're discussing right now is causing you to feel uncomfortable. If we see that you are, I don't want to give away all of our secrets. But if there's a certain posture, you're with us, if that posture is opposite, you're not with us; there's a struggle.
If all of a sudden we see frustration, it's either going to be in something that you just heard, something you experienced, or something that's come from a past situation, whatever it is, what we're looking for is how is the person responding with their body. I've had people sit at a table, saying something above the table. But then when I looked under the table, you can see these feet going like crazy, these hands being arranged.
And their response was considerably different. I remember doing an event where one of the team members turned to the rest of the table and was saying something that their body did not align with. And so when they finished talking, in fact, the thing that they had said was is, "I'm not afraid of anything. And there's nothing I'm concerned about, there's nothing I'm worried about."
And when they stopped, I said, "Hey, help me to understand because when I look at your hands, you can't stop wringing your hands and your feet have gone ballistic." And that person just sat back and was like, "Okay, so here's what I'm worried about." I mean, it was just like, immediate. They spit it right out, right? But they just finished saying, "I'm not afraid of anything." Yeah, you are. How do we know?
Because I can look at your body language and it's communicating, "I actually don't love this. This is not something I like I'm unhappy with this." And once I asked, it was just asking, you know, hey, this is what I'm seeing. So is what you just said, actually, truth? No, it is not. Here is the truth. So we teach our team, watch the person's body language, try and understand what's being communicated in the moment. Another thing is, listen to how the person is communicating.
Chris LoCurto 13:02
Now, I recognize because of a situation that happened with me, years ago, back in the 90s, when I was working logistics, I had sent a message to somebody on what was called a Qualcomm. Now, this is a big box the size of what would later be considered a laptop, but this was just a big box that had like a two inch wide by one inch tall screen and you literally read the characters as they scrolled across.
So hopefully the word fit inside of the screen. If it did not, you had to keep reading it like a ticker tape. And I had somebody who came to me. And I mean, travelled by distance, a long ways to come to me and find out why I was upset with them. I mean, like, I think a few hundred miles. And I talked to that person. I said, "What are you talking about?" They're like, "Why are you upset with me?"
I'm like, "I'm not upset with you." And they're like, "Well, what you sent me shows that you were upset." And when they showed it to me, I said "No, that right there means this." And the person said, "You know, my wife said I was reading that incorrectly." But it made a huge point to me. Something I communicated was not clear enough that the person did not understand that I was not upset with them. From that point on. This is back in the mid 90s. From that point on, that affected my communication.
I started changing the way that I communicated. I started making sure that I was more clear. Now later on when we had things like you know, the ability to put in 14 exclamation points behind something, I would put those in to make sure that somebody knew-or smiley faces, so that somebody knew that I was actually happy. I was communicating something in a joyous way.
Because I didn't want to communicate something that didn't come across the right way. Right? Well, guess what? Even today, in today's emails in today's texts, it's very easy for us to communicate something-social media, hello-it's very easy for us to communicate something and the tone is not heard. We don't hear the tone, we don't hear the demeanor. And so we can very quickly misunderstand. So when you're listening to somebody, you want to make sure that you're listening for the tone.
Chris LoCurto 15:46
You want to make sure that you're checking out what their demeanor is. Right? So what are you hearing? What does it equate to? What do you experience in the conversation that's coming through their tone? Do they sound frustrated? Do they sound angry? Do they sound confused? Do they sound self-protecting, defensive? Do they sound like they're losing worth?
Do they sound like they're trying to gain worth? You know, all of these things are things for you to be focusing on to make sure that you're giving your attention to what's coming from the signs that the other person is giving. If you hear a tone that sounds off, and you're paying attention, you can question it, you can push back, right?
But if we're not paying attention, we can either completely miss it, or automatically assume the worst. So another thing that we teach is notice when someone is deflecting, or reframing the conversation, right? So quite often, people will hear me say, "Hey, that didn't answer the question. Can you answer the question for me?" There's many times when, especially in Stratplan, when we're pushing on something, and somebody starts to deflect that I will say, "ey, that didn't actually answer the question."
And they get this big smile on their face, because they know, "Yep, I was trying not to answer the question." If you're listening to when somebody is deflecting, quite often what will happen is when somebody feels that they're about to lose worth, or they're about to be in trouble, or they're about to, you know, be unhappy, or be caught in something that they're saying, what you will see is they tend to deflect from either the question, or the direction you went in. Many times they will reframe the whole conversation to be something else.
So there's times you're talking about one subject, and they will bring up a different subject, and point that at you. And now you're responding to the thing that they're pointing at you. Well, what happened to the thing we're talking about? Right? So one of the things that we teach our team is, in moments like that, pull the person back to the original conversation.
"Yes, I understand that. That's great. But here's the thing we're trying to solve right here. Can you still-I still need to get you to answer this question over here. Or I need to understand why this is happening the way that it's happening." Pull them back to that original conversation. Even it could happen like five times, they could keep trying to deflect, trying to reframe. Many, many times, keep pulling him back.
If you can do that, then it will help you to have much greater clarity on the communication that's happening in the moment. Right? So understand that sometimes people are uncomfortable, sometimes people feel like they're losing worth. You know, those are reasons why they might deflect in the moment.
So this provides incredibly useful information, but it demands our full attention when we're communicating. If we are not giving our communication, then none of that stuff matters. So to sum up, here are the three weeds again, the first one is position. Notice your posture towards someone else when conversing, are you valuing and respecting others regardless of what your position is?
Whether you are somebody who's older, somebody who's in leadership, somebody who is the parent, whatever it is, make sure that you're checking your position, and try putting yourself in their shoes. Number two, intention. Intentionally slow down, breathe, listen to what's being said.
Are you seeking first to understand before being understood, or are you spending time to waiting to jump in and give your opinion? If your intention is about you, I can promise you communication will not be good. Number three, attention. Give others your full, full, full, full, full, full attention if you want to be fully understood. Are you valuing the communication in the person in the moment? Or are you just focused on the thing you want to be focused on?
So proverbs 4 says, "Though it costs you all you have, get understanding." Folks, I hope this has helped you today to gain much greater clarity in your communication. I hope this has helped you today to have much better relationships.
It is going to take your effort to make sure that you're not doing these things, to make sure that you're weeding these things out of your communication garden. The sooner you do, the better relationships you will have. Well, as always, we want you to take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.