This morning my daughter and I were playing in the lounge and I was mercilessly tickling her. In between the screams and giggles she managed to say "T out, T out". I actually stopped what I was doing. "Do you mean Time Out?". "No mummy, T out although it does mean time out"...
When did it become so hard and time consuming to say a one syllable word like ‘time’ that we needed to replace it with the letter T? (which takes just as long to say I might add)
It got me thinking though about communication- not just between different ages but communication generally and how we're all different. I had a client recently who gave me a brief, I took what I understood to be that brief and did the work... turns out that what she'd meant and what I'd interpreted were two different things. Now that's normal with new clients because you're still working out the relationship and how best to communicate with one another and I don't take it at all personally.
(I should also add at this point that it was nothing irreversible or business critical and could easily be sorted... in case you were worried!)
We all assume that what we say is clear and simple, nobody goes out of their way to confuse people or to make things difficult but the fact is that we all process and communicate information in different ways and we should all understand that and at least try to compensate for it- especially if you're in the sort of industry I am.
So how do you do that? How do you work out someone else's style and learn to understand that or learn to adapt your own to be able to communicate with them more clearly?
There are many schools of education, inspiration and thought on this subject but to be honest the answer is pretty simple... listen. Observe, understand and listen. Watch how that person communicates with others- do they have a distinct tell style or an inclusive sharing one; do they expect instant answers or assume you will need to reflect; do they use acronyms and jargon or straight forward language.
All of these will help you to understand that person’s communication style because the way we talk to others is the way we like to be spoken to- that’s just the way our brains work and the key to communication is adapting your own style to meet the needs of others.
In reality I know that not everyone puts that level of effort in and often we are left frustrated by misunderstandings. However, doing what I do, I think it’s important to go that extra mile for my clients- the whole aim of Spinning Plates is to be what my clients need me to be to make their lives easier and more seamless and part of that ease I ensuring that they only have to ask for something once and that they can trust it gets done- exactly as they wanted.
I have clients that like to be nagged and pushed to get tasks done, I have clients that want every process to be wholly collaborative, I have clients that are dictatorial with their to do lists... and that's all fine, that’s how they communicate with me and how I've learned to process the information they give me. It wasn’t easy getting here, it took time with each new client but I can tell you without a doubt that the work you put in is worth it and in the long run it’ll allow you way more T out time (even I rolled my eyes as I typed that).