By Dana Gillis, Executive Coach — You’ve just walked out of the boss’s office after a somewhat puzzling verbal exchange. You ask yourself, “how can we possibly be from the same species, let alone the same planet?!?!” It seems obvious that your boss doesn’t understand you.
Ever had that internal conversation after a discussion with your boss, someone on your team, or a significant other? I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. (Just ask my lovely bride.) When I’ve had that “WTH” moment after such a chat, I often focus not on the question of what just happened, but instead on why others misunderstood me.
Why Your Boss Doesn’t Understand You
There are several variables at play during a communication disconnect between two people. One’s proficiency with communication skills coupled with interpersonal style differences lies at the very heart of the problem. Communication skills are the tools through which people exchange ideas with each other. Interpersonal capabilities represent the use of communication skills in action. The extent to which an individual and her/his thoughts are understood is, to a certain degree, dependent upon one’s mastery and application of the ability to speak, listen, read, and write in exchanging those ideas with others. But that may not be the only reason your boss doesn’t understand you.
First Steps to Being Better Understood
For others to better understand you, first explore the communication and interpersonal style differences that can become barriers to understanding, and how to recognize and overcome them. Before others can understand you, you must understand yourself and how your interpersonal communication style could be a barrier to better comprehension. Another critical factor to better interpersonal communication is to develop the skill to know, sooner rather than later, when your message hits a wall. You can learn to recognize the signs that your intent was not conveyed how you wanted.
Do You Need to Change Your Perspective?
Human nature sometimes dictates a self-centered view that how we view and do things, is best. There are benefits a leader could derive from seeing things from the perspective of others:
- Build self-awareness and take greater control over how others perceive you
- Connect with colleagues by making them more comfortable when working with you
- Clarify team goals and projects more effectively
- Reduce unproductive conflicts and get back to the business of your business
- Make decisions more collaboratively and quickly
Reframe the Concept of Interpersonal Skills
As a leader, you cannot focus enough on honing interpersonal skills and developing that competency within your team. The best ideas in the world go nowhere without the ability to convince stakeholders to take decisive action toward a desired goal. Some leaders shy away from using what they consider “soft skills” like relational communication. Challenge yourself to reframe the concept of interpersonal skills. Rather than a soft competency, look at them as tools a leader leverages to focus others on accomplishing collective goals.
A Workshop to Build Better Understanding
The road to being better understood is not a difficult one to travel, and you don’t have to go it alone. Join Transcend and Leadership Huntsville/ Madison County for the next event in the Lead Like You Mean It series, focused on Leveraging Communication Styles with Everything DiSC Workplace™. The goal of the day is to take away some quick tools for adjusting communication style to better connect with anyone. Join your fellow Fearless Leaders in a day of exploration and learning.
Until next time, Be Fearless!