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Monday, 20 February 2012 09:38

Communication at the Office and at Home Must Be a Two-Way Street

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Whether in the board room or in the living room,two way-street effective communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. Unfortunately, when more than one person is involved in a conversation, there is the potential for misunderstanding. Confusion and miscommunication can range from humorous to disastrous. The best way to guard against this is to think deliberately about how we communicate, being mindful of our tone of voice, our choice of words, our body language. We must also think about our audience and prepare accordingly.

Why is it that some of us will spend hours perfecting a sales pitch, but spend little thought on how we interact with our children? Certainly, our livelihood may depend on that sale, but much of our home’s harmony depends on our ability to communicate effectively with our kids. This does not mean that family life is not full of spontaneous exchanges that we do not think about at all, just like our interactions at work. It just means that our communication will only get better if we take time to examine it critically from time to time.

Consider this proven sales technique. You have delivered your sales pitch flawlessly and it is time to close and ask for a commitment. To do this, pose an open-ended question such as, “Based on everything we have discussed, do you see any reason why this product is not the perfect fit for your needs?” And then be quiet. The first person to speak following the question will almost always be the one who agrees to your request.

The technique takes discipline to learn, but it is really quite easy. Ask your question, and then resist the urge to fill the quiet until the other person responds. If you can master that, you will find that you’ve usually elicited the desired response. Most of the time, the speaker will not want to disappoint. The person will either answer affirmatively or will give you information you can use to your advantage.

Parents, on the other hand, tend to be masters of the monologue: the irritating speech that puts everyone in the audience to sleep. This is true whether you are lecturing your 6-year-old on picking up his toys or your teenager on getting his grades under control. A monologue pushes information on the listener; it does not welcome information back. Not only is there no way for the listener to respond, there is no way for the talker to know if he’s being understood.

As a parent, do not let yourself get caught in the monologue trap. Instead, learn to ask those open-ended questions. “Honey, how are your toys supposed to look?” “Son, what needs to happen to get these grades to an acceptable level?” Then wait. Refrain from saying all the things you want to say: (“You know that your dolls shouldn’t be all over the floor!  No college will accept you with C’s in math!”)  Let your child talk to you, and be silent. You’ll be surprised how much of what you wanted to say to him actually comes out of his mouth. The biggest advantage of all this is that because he feels he received the courtesy and respect he deserves, he will repay you with the same. This is indeed the win-win scenario.

Communication is a two-way street—a street that should have a lot of traffic moving in both directions.  Life gets busy, but make sure you are making time to communicate with your kids on a daily basis. A lapse in communication is almost always interpreted negatively. Children will feel you don’t care, you are mad, or you’re too wrapped up in your work. Even the most sullen teenager secretly wants to know that you care. Consistent communication is one of the best ways to guard against miscommunication.


Chris Efessiou

About Chris Efessiou:  Chris Efessiou is an entrepreneur, business leader, educator, mentor, international speaker, radio show host, and best-selling author of CDO Chief Daddy Officer: The Business of Fatherhood  based on his own experience from raising his daughter as a single dad by applying his business knowledge to the business of parenting.  Listen to Chris’s weekly Radio Show Straight Up With Chris:  Real Talk on Business and Parenthood on Voice America Radio.  You may connect with Chris on Facebook, follow on Twitter and visit