It’s Just a Matter of Communicating- Isn’t It?

We have a communications problem. We need to communicate better. We just don’t seem to be able to communicate with each other. Do you hear these statements very often? Have you said something like these statements recently?

I seem to hear a lot about the inability of humans to communicate with each other. What I find interesting is that when I’m talking with someone about their communications problems with others, it seems the communication problems are mostly with the others and not the individual with whom I speaking.

All of this reminds me of the old saying that sits on my desk.

I know you believe you understand what you think I said but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

I ran across this statement some 40 years ago when I was doing youth and family counseling. I find it just as relevant today as it was back then. Therefore, I find a constant need to keep learning about the communication process and improving my own knowledge and skills.

In this regard, I want to share a resource that has been very helpful. This resource, The FOUR Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results by Jeffrey Ford and Laurie Ford, describes four types of communications that are used every day by human beings. How well we use these four types of communications will determine how effective we are in influencing others in the workplace.

The four types of communications are;

  1. Initiative Conversations- This is the type of communication that we use when we are introducing a new goal or idea or proposing a change. It is the communication that involves something new or different.
  2. Understanding Conversations- This type of communication is used when we want people to understand the meaning of our ideas. We use this type when we are trying to relate the new or different idea to the current situation.
  3. Performance Conversations- This type of communication is used when we want people to take specific actions for specific outcomes. We use this communication when we make requests of others for specific actions.
  4. Closure Conversations- This type of communication is used to summarize the project or idea. We also use this type when we want to thank others or celebrate their successes.

The resource describes how to use these communication types to enhance everyday work and personal communications, as well as those difficult conversations. The authors emphasize the importance of planning and developing the conversation to increase the effectiveness of the communications. The ideas in the book can be used to increase the chances of being certain that what we hear is indeed what was meant.

Until next time, take your next conversation and identify in which of the communication types it fits and how to enhance its effectiveness.