One of the most difficult things for just about everyone is communication. No matter what you do or what business you're in, miscommunication or bad communication with another person is probably something that you have experience with, perhaps even on many occasions.
I have a theory that explains why most of us are such bad communicators. The big problem is the twisted frame. You see, we all have our own "frame" (or lens) that we see the world through.
Our own frame makes a lot of sense to us because that's what we see out of, and are used to. The problem, however, is when you try to see the world through someone else's frame, or allow someone to see the world through yours. When you try to do this, the frame gets twisted, and sometimes we don't even realize it. This is collectively what I refer to as the twisted-frame theory.
Oftentimes, salespeople try to force their own frame on others, without ever truly listening to them. This can work on some people, but it does not make you a good communicator. It just makes you good at pressuring people.
Here are five solutions to be a better communicator. Here's how to reverse the twisted frame:
1. Don't make assumptions with no actual basis.
Great communicators don't make assumptions that don't have a real basis. Most people make assumptions based on their own prejudices or confirmation biases, instead of an actual basis. This is one of the biggest problems with communication. Many of us will go around making the assumption that others understand us exactly as we understand ourselves. But this is a big mistake.
You can't simply assume that you make sense to someone else just because in your own mind it makes sense. What you are thinking and saying in your mind is not necessarily equal to what the receiving party interprets about you or what you said. And oftentimes these two understandings can be vastly different things.
2. Unspoken expectations are the death of good communication.
Many times I've had people say to me that they were expecting something different. I then knew that communication was the problem. Expectation, especially if not spoken and specified for each party, can be a problem.
The best way to solve the expectation problem is to speak about what you expect and find out what the other party expects in as much detail as possible for the situation. One of the ways to discover what the other party's expectation is would be to ask a lot of questions.
3. Ask a lot of questions.
Many people assume that communication is about making a lot of statements to the other party. But in fact, to be a great communicator, you need to really understand the other person. Try to ask more questions than the number of statements you give.
The trick when asking a lot of questions is to not literally send a list of questions. People hate lists of questions, I've found. The best strategy is to have live conversations where you ask one question at a time, and allow the discussion to flow with the others' statements and questions too.
4. You must truly be interested.
As I mentioned in the intro, some salespeople are good at pushing their agenda and their frame on others. However, this does not work with everyone and is not necessarily sustainable for creating long-lasting relationships in business. It mainly works just for high-pressure sales.
For real relationships and good communication, you must truly listen and actually be interested in the other person. Otherwise, that's not a good relationship if you aren't actually interested in the first place, and you are probably doing it for the wrong reasons.
5. Think less about yourself and provide value to the other.
Good communication to me comes down to being a good person and thinking about the other first. If you make everything about yourself, you won't ever be a good communicator. Whether people realize it consciously or subconsciously, something will always seem off about you when you are pushing your agenda all the time.
This goes deeper, and selfish people I find tend to be bad communicators--people who always want to make things about themselves.
Some of the best relationships I have made, I have just genuinely been interested in the other person and wanted to provide value and support to them. Even though I wasn't asking for or expecting it, that value had a way of coming back to me as well.
At the end of the day, as contradictory as it may seem, being a good communicator is all about listening. I run into many people who have communication issues, and the first thing I always notice is that they don't actually listen. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.