Did you know there are Six Messages in any conversation?

• What you Mean to say
• What you Actually say
• What the other person Hears
• What the other person Thinks he/she hears
• What the other person Says
• What you Think the other person says

No wonder we have communication problems. To make matters even worse, did you know that our mind thinks four times faster than the average person can speak? That means that even when we try to listen, our minds are going many miles an hour in another direction.

There are ways that we can compensate for these communication challenges. One way is through good feedback. Feedback will help us understand these multiple messages and will help us focus our thinking minds.

Let's look at some of the feedback issues we face. First, who is responsible for the feedback? The person sending the message or the person receiving the message? Unfortunately there is no clear answer to this question. In fact, no one knows who is responsible for feedback. As a result, too often, no one does it.

One lesson for us is whether we are the sender or the receiver, we are responsible for feedback. If you are the sender, you must solicit feedback from your receiver. If you are the receiver you must give feedback to your sender.

To further complicate matters, as most of us know, two-way communication means that we move from sender to receiver and vice versa many times in any given conversation.

How can we Solicit feedback:

1.Watch the receiver's nonverbal behaviors. When you see a frown or a sign that the person might not understand, ask them if they have questions.

2.Once you have sent your message, ask the person what his or her next steps will be. From this information, determine if the message was clearly understood.

3.Listen to your receiver's response. Does it make sense based on what you said? Perhaps their fast-thinking mind missed the main point.

4.Ask powerful questions that relate to what you just said.

How to Give Feedback

1.Express what you heard the speaker say in our own words.

2.Ask questions related to what the speaker said to be sure you heard him or her correctly.

3.Attend to the speaker's nonverbal behavior. Pay attention to where the speaker gives visual and vocal emphasis and then respond with questions to determine the meaning of that emphasis. "Are you saying that the Nelson project will cost less money to initiate?"

4.Do not use words that might create a distance between you and the speaker. For example, do not use explosive, feeling words. Avoid placing blame. Instead, use feedback to help you understand what your speaker is trying to say even if they are saying something you may disagree with.

Becoming the Best Listener you can means really making an effort to hear what the speaker is saying. It does not mean passive listening while multi-tasking. It is something we all can do.

Rachel Naomi Remen said: "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give to each other is our attention. . . A loving silence has more power to heal and connect than the most well-intended words."
Find out How Well You Listen by taking this free assessment http://www.totalcommunicationscoach.com/how-good-a-listener-are-you.htm

Author's Bio: 

Joan Curtis is the CEO for Total Communications Coach. She has done leadership training and consulting for over 20 years. Her new book, Managing Sticky Situations at Work http://www.managingstickysituationsatwork, came out in June 2009. In it she creates a new model of communication called the Say It Just Right Model. Check out her website at http://www.TotalCommunicationsCoach.com.