Filter the Noise. Communicate and Listen Intentionally.

Like so many things in our personal and professional lives, success comes down to being intentional.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

Many of us have heard the saying, “Don’t grocery shop while you’re hungry.” The reasoning is simple: If you are hungry and at the grocery, you’ll tend to purchase things that address your sight-driven appetite now instead of your mind/body-driven meal plan later.

In business and technology, many of us have also heard how important it is to know what problem you want to solve before looking at a new tool or process. The reasoning is similar: If you don’t know what problem you want to solve, the flashiest vendor demo, best salesperson, or most impressive UI/UX may influence your purchase. Whether or not the tool solves a problem or creates new ones remains to be seen.

Have a goal or bend to the wind.

And many of us have been taught similar behaviors when it comes to meetings, have an objective and an agenda, or the only real thing that happens during a typical interaction is meandering rubbish.

The above illustrations require intentional plans in advance of the experience. Absent a plan, results vary.

Communicating Requires A Plan. Talking Does Not.

Were you to measure how much talking you do in a single day, what do you believe is the signal-to-noise ratio? How often do you think your message is lost in the noise? Does your method of communicating trample your message?

Figure 1. Speaking without a desired outcome and plan to get there often buries the intended message in noise.

5 Simple Steps to Getting Your Point Across

  1. Determine what you want to happen AFTER you talk.
  2. Plan your points which lead to the desired outcome.
  3. Communicate your points intentionally.
  4. Leave space in the conversation for the other person to talk.
  5. Know when to be quiet and know when you’re done.

Talking is easy. Communicating is hard.

One happens without much thought. The other requires a goal and a plan.

Listening Also Requires A Plan. Hearing Does Not.

How often have you experienced someone talking to you, or at you, where it was difficult to discern the real intent or message? Were you caught off guard? Did you receive a message different than expected? What was your default response?

Similarly, how often do you hear information, whether on the news, radio, social media bitstreams, or at work, where the message seems unwieldy, scary, or overwhelming?

The same is true when listening to someone talk.

5 Simple Steps to Listening to Anyone

  1. Evaluate who is making the statement.
  2. Evaluate what statement they are making.
  3. Evaluate why they are making that statement.
  4. Strip away your emotional response to the person, method, and medium. Decide if you agree or not.
  5. Ask questions. Refer to the communication steps above.
Figure 2. Communicating AND listening must be intentional.

Talking doesn’t guarantee communication. And hearing doesn’t guarantee listening.

Both must be intentional to realize desired outcomes.

Otherwise, it is just noise.

No signal.