You’re not just here to listen, but to make others feel heard

Without us even realising, the way we communicate each and every day is peppered with interruptions and detachment, be it because of hectic schedules or the distraction of smartphones and – ironically – social media. How is it that in a world of increasing connectivity, we disconnect when it comes to effectively communicating with others?

Good communication is more important than we give it value for. A lack of it leads to more than a lack of messages received – it also leads to a lack of personal connection, a lack of aligned values, a lack of purpose. Communicating well is as much about being able to listen and to listen effectively. And so many of us are stuck on how to do that.

In order to get a real conversation started, The Conscience Organisation recently hosted one of our quarterly community events and invited bestselling author Kamal Sarma, and Sydney Swans captain Josh Kennedy to come and share their thoughts on how important good communication really is in our lives, whether we’re on the field, in a boardroom or at home. Here are some top insights from the night.

Clive, our CEO, with Kamal Sarma and John Kennedy

1. We’re more interconnected, but more disconnected than ever before

Yes, we are in a mobile world and more active on social media than ever before, but we’re disconnected from the really personal elements of our relationships – those face-to-face interactions that, according to Sarma, are key to building strong, authentic relationships.

2.  It’s not about the message sent, it’s about the message received

Says Sarma: “You need a connection with purpose.” And that starts with being present in a conversation. “People desperately need your presence, but if you’re not there for it, it’s difficult to connect.” Something as simple as keeping your mobile phone out of sight is a strong indication to the person that you’re committed to hearing what they have to say, and value the time you spend with them – indicating, as Samar suggests, that you’re not just there to listen, “but to make others feel heard.”

Kamal Sarma with OzHarvest founder, Ronni Kahn

3. You are 30-40% more productive if you work as a team

Being part of the leadership team of the Sydney Swans, captain Josh Kennedy knows a thing or two about effective communication. It’s important as a leader to be able to resonate with your entire group – that means really understand the importance of being able to read and respect different personalities. “[It’s important to] set standards that have to be adhered to,” he says. “Create an environment where everyone knows what’s expected and what’s not.”

4. Invest in time

The key to being an effective communicator, be it with colleagues, friends or family, is to really work on building up trust and a rapport, so that you’re able to read each other’s responses and habits and consequently establish a comfortable environment for communicating – including having tough conversations. “The bottom line,” says Kennedy, “is building the relationships and that’s done through effort and time.”