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One oft-ignored rule of engagement when it comes to communication is that its goal is to receive other people’s meanings and have them receive yours. Many people don’t realize how much they communicate is affected by the way a message is delivered. If your message is square you can’t force it into a round hole. That is why communication can be so tough. To be an effective communicator you must understand:
Further, if someone is trying to tell you something but you just don’t get it, you have to figure out how to change the way you’re receiving. Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project fame has identified four different tendencies that guide how most people react to communication expectations. Understanding The Four Tendencies will improve your ability to give and receive messages.
Upholders are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. They do what they believe to be right and also what others think is right.
Questioners are intrinsically motivated. They do what they believe to be right and ask questions to understand external expectations to judge if they match with their internal ones.
Obligers are extrinsically motivated. They are more likely to fulfill others’ expectations at the expense of their own.
Rebels resist both internal and external expectations.
Why does this matter? Take these three scenarios, for starters:
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, add the Four Tendencies Model to your communication toolbox. Instinctively you know that your world view isn’t the same as everyone else’s, but this model helps categorize how others may be perceiving things and allows you to customize your delivery methods accordingly.
As a communicator (and human) it behooves you to develop your ability to read who you are working with, understand their tendencies and modify your tactics accordingly. When all you have is a hammer, the whole world can look like a nail. The Four Tendencies Model is a screwdriver. Pick one up and add it to your toolbox.
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