Communication is a critical skill that you need to succeed. There are many dimensions to communication. Your speech, your choice of words, your body language, how you listen, etc. How you respond during communication also plays a vital role as that determines how the conversation you are part of will continue, yielding the type of result you want.
Investor Warren Buffet famously said, “Invest in yourself. The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now is to hone your written and verbal communication skills. If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark–nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”
What are the different ways in which we respond? In the book, What got you here won’t get you there, author Marshall Goldsmith shares 6 ways we usually respond, and I will share with you a seventh way that adds a Christian dimension to it.
When you respond using this method, you are a little bit annoyed. You know this person well, so you want to let them off easily, so you may say, “I think someone told me that before….” They are trying to give you a suggestion or a piece of advice that you are not interested in hearing.
You are responding with sarcasm when you say something along the lines of “I didn’t need to hear that….” It is a passive-aggressive way to show your disapproval of what was shared with you. It does not validate the person who took the time to share something they felt was essential for you.
You use this type of response when you don’t consider the person in front of you as your equal. You somehow feel that you are superior to them either because you think you are more intelligent or more experienced in some way. You may then respond with something along the lines of “I am five steps ahead of you ….”
You may use this response method when you are the line manager for someone or in the workplace. You are placed at a higher level in the hierarchy. You may say something along the lines of “Why are you bothering me with this … “You are saying “I don’t have time for this,” “I know about this already,” or “who are you to tell me about this? etc.
You may use this approach when you know you may be at fault, but you still want to justify. You may choose to respond with, “I agree with you and understand …. But you have mistaken me …” You want to explain away something that is bothering the person who has brought this to your attention.
As opposed to the five ways mentioned above, this one is better. You patiently hear what they have to say and say nothing but thank you. When you do that, you have allowed the other person to share what is on their minds. You have shown respect by listening. They feel heard and respected. They will be more than willing to listen to you and work with you in the future.
An even better response
In the Bible, when we see how he responded to various people, He usually asked them a question. With the rich young ruler, Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you ask me about what is good?” In John 5:6, we see Jesus speaking to the crippled beggar with another question “Do you want to become well?” To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus asked the woman, “where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
In Acts 16:30, we see another question that people asked the disciples “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The best way for us to respond would then be to ask, “What do you suggest I do?” This question encourages another person to invest in you, your success, your vision, your leadership.
In some situations, a “thank you for bringing this to my attention” would suffice, especially you know what to do next. But in cases where people bring you things that you are not aware of, the way to work or do things or something related to your job, then “What do you suggest I do” shows humility, willingness to learn, and desire to grow. Such a response will encourage others to work with you and even follow your lead.