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#WFH: How Do Your Beliefs Affect Communication Online?

Real changes can only be made by the individual who is aware and wants to change. If the conversations are perceived as threating, there is little chance of effective communication. Part of the reason for active listening is to create an atmosphere that fosters genuine communication and decreases threat through criticism, evaluation and judgment. Threat triggers the fight or flight response and doesn’t sup-port autonomy. Active listening challenges demands for decisions, judgments and evaluations. Judgment of any kind causes freedom of thought, creativity and ex-pression to shut down. Even well-meaning advice and information is an attempt to change a person and can cause disconnect. Common techniques of communicating often fall short when it comes to active listening. In conversations, we are all asking for verification of our ideas, plans and concepts.

We ask people to agree or disagree with us and to validate our own point of view. Many questions or challenges are only masked expressions of emotions or perceived needs. Because as complex human beings we are unable to communicate these emotions openly, we often disguise these feelings to ourselves and others
Developing active listening skills requires a willingness to get inside the speaker and grasp his/her point of view. This means an inside out approach. We want to understand the content of the topic and also the emotional or underlying attitudes. Both are import and both give meaning to the message. Let’s look at an example. Say a worker comes to a virtual meeting and reports “I have finished that project.” Now listen again. What if the worker says, “I have finally finished that damn project?” Same content…different emotions. Taking time to listen actively is the first step on the ladder to listening with intuition. The meanings in these messages are totally different. Say the supervisor responds to a work situation by just giving another assignment to the worker. How does that worker feel? Did he/she get her point across? Does he/she feel respected, vali-dated, appreciated? Does he/she feel good about completing the project?

Beliefs are our foundations for reality. We all have our own set of perceptions, preconceived notions and beliefs. We react, defend and validate our beliefs to reaffirm that what we believe is indeed the only truth. When you believe you have to influence and control outcomes this can translate into “I have to influence and control others.” You believe you should fix situations, make people feel better and defend your agenda, so it is very difficult for you to listen to another person, especially virtually, when the connections tend to be shorter, less frequent and more indirect. You may have been taught to push your own points, say what you think you need to, and assume that this is all it takes.

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