Productivity & Effectiveness

Become a better communicator – learning from when it goes wrong

By 18/05/2021 June 17th, 2021 No Comments

Are you one of those people who dwells on interactions? I am. Or at least I still do but not as much as I used to.

In this post and video, I will share some ideas on how to have fewer regrettable interactions and what to do if you’ve had an interaction you regret.

  • Why did I not stand up for myself in that meeting?
  • I wish I was more assertive when I spoke with my colleague.
  • I wish I’d not spoken so much and maybe listened more.
  • I wish I’d not reacted in that way.

Any of these statements resonate with you?

Read on, or watch the video, or both!

Prepare in advance

One of the best ways to avoid regrettable interactions is to prepare in advance. If you know you’re going to a contentious meeting, or you’re meeting with someone you clash with, or you’re going for an interview, there are many ways to prepare in advance.

  • Think about the sorts of questions you’ll get asked and prepare for them.
  • Think about the topics you’ll be covering and plan how you’ll cover them.
  • Write out what you’re planning to say, or bullet point the main ideas.

We often must psychological prepare ourselves for the interaction, so it maybe you need some time to get your head straight.

Always pay attention to your feelings and emotions. Sometimes we can fly off the handle because of something outside of work that is bothering us. Maybe there is a need to postpone the meeting?

And it always pays to be on top of your work.

Learn to control emotions

Often, the interactions I regret the most, are the ones where I have let my emotions take over. Someone says something that pushes a button, or I feel so strongly about a subject that I cannot control emotions.

But it’s important not to react and to instead respond. This means taking in the information, contemplating it then working how best to respond.

Responsibility is the ability to respond – and we all have this. We all could respond in a way that is professional, kind and courteous.

It’s easier to say than to do and it requires practice. Journaling has helped me greatly in this. Working out who I want to become and how that perfect Rob will behave is also a good way to guide my current behaviours. Of course, perfect Rob may not be right for you…but you get the point.

Learn to communicate

It goes without saying really that learning to be a better communicator will help have fewer regrettable interactions.

Listening, presenting, understanding your audience, making clear notes, writing well and controlling non-verbal communication will all help you to become a much better, confident and positive communicator.

I cover all of this and more in my online Communication Superpower Workshop. Suffice to say – when we learn to be a better communicator – we can often deal with 99.9% of problems in business. And we can learn to deal with them calmly and confidently.

Listen more than you talk

Many of my most regrettable interactions from the past have been when I talked more than I listened. I waffled, or spoke over other people, or held the conversation for so long that others became annoyed.

Listening is the greatest compliment you can give someone. It’s also the best way to learn.

And when we’re listening, we’re not droning on, confusing people with our words or dominating the conversation.

Listen more than you talk. An easy way to assess this is to make a simple dot in your notebook along a timeline for every time you’re listening. And some other symbol for when you’re talking. Or simply ask other people.

To be honest though, we know when we’ve talked more than we’ve listened – and we often regret that interaction and dwell on it. Learning to listening is important.

Note down how to improve

Sometimes we won’t have time to prepare, or we simply haven’t done the prep. So, we may come back from an interaction full of regrets about how we conducted ourselves, or how we let people walk all over us, or how we maybe didn’t listen more.

It’s therefore important to spend some time writing down how we wished it had been better. These notes, ideas and thoughts (although maybe not true – as we often believe our performance to be worse than it was), are good areas to start focusing our learning.

What could we do differently next time? What areas are there to improve on? Why didn’t it go so well? What did I do, or not do? What can I promise myself I will do differently next time?

And then crack on making our communication better.

Do you have a time machine?

The chances are you don’t have a time machine – so you cannot go back in time and do something different. The interaction has happened. That cannot be changed.

If the outcome was very dire then you may need to clean up. Fix those relationships, say sorry for poor behaviour and deal with any other fall out.

But you cannot control the past, all you can do is work to ensure you are learning and behaving in positive ways in the now. The now is all we ever have.

Try not to dwell

This is easier to say than to do – I still dwell on certain interactions but they are few and far between as I try to do the ideas in this article.

But there is little point dwelling for too long. Sure, dwell, ponder, muse but try not to let it take over your life. Write down how you feel, write down how you can be better, fix the fall out and move on. The only thing we can change is our current behaviours – I would suggest starting there.

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