In most situations, the degree of influence from one person to another is proportional to the quality of the relationship that exists between them. The foundation of a good relationship is good communication, and the style of communication that is most effective to building a good relationship is other-centric.
Business communication can be a series of screwed up disconnects ripe with misunderstanding, creating a lack of alignment and common purpose to achieve results.
Business communication can be a series of screwed up disconnects ripe with misunderstanding, creating a lack of alignment and common purpose to achieve results. Typically, in business communication people don’t seek to understand one other, instead they seek to make their point known and convince others that they are right. As a result, many businesses are faced with communication challenges, which prove to be quite costly if not assessed and addressed. Miscommunication costs businesses $37 billion (or $26K per employee) in the US and UK every year. On the other hand, according to a report by Mitchell Communications Group, organizations that learn effective communication are nearly five times as likely to retain the best employees.
Other-centric communication takes the opposite approach. The primary benefits of other-centric communication are that people feel valued and enabled to be in sync with teammates and leadership, speeding the pathway to more meaningful collaboration. When the focus is on the other person discovery happens, expertise can be leveraged and people are more committed to move forward linking arms.
Six Easy Ways to Achieve Other-Centric Communication
- Ask questions. Questions signal interest in the other person more than anything else, and the answers deliver important information. People like to be asked their opinions and sought out for advice and expertise.
- Demonstrate active listening. Genuinely care to listen to what others are saying. Desire to learn something valuable from each conversation. Think about other’s feelings and the implications of what they are saying. If you are thinking about what you’re going to say next, you are not having an other-centric conversation. Selectively writing down key information as you speak with someone else is one of the best nonverbal indicators that you are listening.
- Seek common ground. The more you know about someone, the more you will find that you have shared interests, ideas and experiences. We all want to connect and associate with people who are like-minded.
- Provide eye contact. Looking directly at others tells them you are paying attention, you care and they are important.
- Smile more. Smiling is welcoming, opens people up and gives others a sense of well-being. Notice how few people smile when they talk. And pass on a smile.
- Affirm the other person. This is a gift that you can give anyone. If you have asked good questions and listened carefully to the answers, you will discover a person’s skills, gifts, and accomplishments. Then, verbally acknowledge the other person. The better someone feels about themselves, the better they think of you.
Two Significant Barriers
- Negative Emotional States: Most people automatically default to their preferred communication style and lose the ability to adapt when they are under stress, tired, frustrated, angry or simply become too task-driven. In these states, people typically lose their emotional intelligence and composure, focusing solely on fulfilling their own agendas, thereby giving up the power to relate to, and influence, others.
- Manipulation: Most people have natural, intuitive BS detectors. The prerequisite to other-centric communication is genuine interest and respect for others. Without authenticity, people quickly detect one’s underlying motivation and know they are being manipulated. Once this is determined, distrust ensues and good communication ceases.
Exceptional Communicators Practice Other-Centric Communication
Does other-centric communication sound simple? It is, in concept, but few people demonstrate this practice in their communication style. Differentiate yourself by focusing on others, and in doing so you will reap the rewards and build better relationships with more influence.