HAVE YOU EVER wondered why breakdowns in communication with people regularly occur in our daily lives? Have you found yourself thinking, “We speak the same language, but we’re just not connecting?” This sense of disengagement with another can cause stress, wastes precious time and embeds in our mind perceptions that may or may not be true. These disconnections certainly short-circuit real listening, sabotage client relationships and customer service and diminish sales, trust and productivity.
I have designed and delivered customized training programs to large and small business and service organizations for many years. During the training sessions, I noticed the participants fell into one of two “camps” when it came to their style of communication and understanding. Over the years, I began to think of these contrasting styles as “Saturn” and “Neptune.”
BRIDGING COMMUNICATION GAPS
Differences in communication styles keep us light years away from achieving our personal and business goals. Without tools or skills to bridge the gap, we find ourselves repeating what we say and do, hoping to mend the breach in understanding, but experiencing complete frustration because we continue to get wrong results. It became clear to me that there had to be a method to link the communication gap between these two planets; techniques to develop clear and compatible understanding without compromising one’s own perspective.
Perhaps the first step in this process is to become aware of which of the two “planets” we call home. The following list represents some general behaviors and approaches used by Saturn and Neptune.
• Take in information through facts, using the five senses.
• Rely on experience and actual data that provide literal perceptions.
• Notice facts and details in the present.
• Understand information in sequence, and give it out sequentially.
• Are concrete and very careful about generalizing from the known facts.
• Prefer real and actual over possible and potential.
• Take things at face value.
• Have trouble interpreting the symbolic (an apple is an apple; a rose is a rose).
• Use the five senses to provide literal perceptions.
• Are “matter of fact” in dealing with others.
• Can pull information from many past experiences to apply to the current issue.
• Traditionalists: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
• Take information in as “quick snap shots” and then the attention shifts to patterns, connections, meanings and insights.
• Use the sixth sense, intuition and inspiration.
• Are comfortable with making generalizations.
• Focus on the big picture of possibilities and options.
• Love to brainstorm and “daydream” about future potential.
• Believe “all is possible.”
• Perceive a rose to be a flower, a symbol of love, or part of the song, or just potpourri, just as an apple is a symbol of good health, a sign of affection for a teacher, or applesauce.
• Are perceived as “in the clouds.”
• Do “leap around” communication.
• Visionaries: “If it ain’t broke, let’s break it and see what happens!”
Neither planet’s communication style is “right” or “better.” Each offers a richness of perspective to the other. When we take the responsibility to learn the dialect of another’s planet we are able to reward ourselves with a universe of new knowledge. With an increased understanding and recognition of another’s preferred style, greater productivity and stronger relationships are possible.
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™ is an internationally recognized speaker, internationally published author of COURAGE, STUCK and FACE IT!, trainer and courage coach.
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