Working Together on Communication

This week I was working on an outline for a half-day course on communication – particularly listening.  As I was working on this outline I realized listening isn’t just about listening.  There’s more communication involved in it.  Normally when I talk to groups about listening, I ask them what’s the difference between listening and hearing.  There is a difference and I’m not going to give the answer.  That’s for you to think about but there also other things to consider if someone is going to listen.

There’s interpretation of message.  On the CALMC Facebook page, I put a couple of activities to do with groups.  One was Peanut Butter and Jelly and the other was Paper Folding.  Both of those are subject to individual interpretation.  Not all of us have the same thought or idea about those.  Even as I write about those two topics, some of you probably are getting different images.  Some of you are probably wondering what the heck Peanut Butter and Jelly and Paper Folding have to do as an activity on working together.

How someone interprets the message is going to depend how well they will listen.  Is it interpreted as an interesting topic, is it worthwhile, who is giving the message and were there any predetermined thoughts are all things that influence our ability to listen.

Another item is how the message is conveyed will determine how well a person listens.  When I mean conveyed I mean tone, non-verbals such as facial expression (if it’s a face-to-face conversation), and how does it make the person feel.

When I mean how a person feels, does it put a person on the defensive such as with a message of “You aren’t doing that right,” or is it, “I like showing people how to succeed,”  showing a little more concern for the individual.  Sometimes when I talk about communication, I talk about “you messages” and what I say is they usually put people on defensive instead of allowing support to happen.

Some people interpret the message of support as being “flowery.”  One time someone said it’s like going back to charm school.  Some people it takes too long.  All of those may be right but if we feel what we have to say is important and we want people to listen, it might be a good idea to try something different and  communicate in a way they want to listen to our message.

Along with that is tone and non-verbals.  If you give someone a “you message” do you look stern and talk with a harsh tone?  I probably would shut down with someone communicating to me like that.

It’s even more difficult if we’re using electronic forms of communication including phone messages.  We don’t see the person’s face when they convey the message and despite a sense of tone sometimes being conveyed in written format, some people will say they didn’t really intend to convey the message like they did.

Remember, if we’re wanting to work together, it’s important to communicate in a way that will build trust, support and a working relationship.  It may take some time to change our communication style but in the long run, it pays off.

The next time someone wants their message listened to, think about how that message is being delivered.

Check out Peanut Butter and Jelly and Paper Folding on our Facebook page!  Have Fun!

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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