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How to Clarify for Meaning and Seek to Understand Part 2: Communication Tips for Successful Conversations.

Have a plan

If you know you need to have an important conversation, prepare for it – develop a plan of action. First of all be clear what outcomes you want. Ask yourself: For what purpose do I want to have this meeting or conversation? What is my intention? What outcomes do I want?

So, now you know what you want to achieve thinking about the following will help people to come on the journey with you?

What, Why, How, What If…

Some people will want to know the ‘what’ before they can make sense of what you are talking about… exactly what it is that you are going to present / suggest / or tell? Some people will want to know ‘why’ – for what purpose are you talking about this… how is this relevant to me? There are others who will be most interested in ‘how’… how is it going to work? how are you expecting me to do that?…and there will be others who want to know ‘what if’… what if it doesn’t work out that way? …what if something happens?…what if we go over budget…?

If you make sure you cover the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what if’ when you present your ideas, people will be better able to both listen and contribute.

Big Picture Versus Detail

When you are communicating with people it is important to talk about both vision (big picture) and specifics (detail). You probably are aware that some people are great at detailed work and some people are more comfortable with ‘big picture’. Well if they are great at one of these ways of working, it is likely that this is how they think too. This means if you are talking to a detail orientated person only about big picture, they are likely to switch off at best and get frustrated at worst and vice versa. Of course some people are good at seeing, working and thinking from both perspectives. For those that are not though, it’s important that you include both types of communication both when you are giving information and seeking it. If you can help people move between detail to big picture as you go, this will have a positive impact on their understanding and on their ‘buy in’.

So to recap

when you are seeking collaboration, understanding or ‘buy in’ it’s important to help people understand where you are coming from by using the above simple techniques: always include the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what if’ and remember to also talk in both visionary and specific language.

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