A look at communication barriers
Perspective. There’s always another version of the same story and there’s always additional information to piece together what’s going on. Generally, we’re never privy to it all. That’s when we start to build emotions and turn them into supporting evidence against something we often villainize or have disdain towards. Sometimes though, the question doesn’t fall to needing every last detail to figure out logical actions. It’s all about taking a step back and reasoning things out.
Take a look at the two conversations below:
Conversation with your Coach:
- Coachee: THE ADJUSTER WON’T RESPOND TO MY E-MAILS AND IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!
- Coach: Deep breaths. I can see the frustration but let’s talk about what’s going on.
- Coachee: I SEND E-MAILS, I CALL, I LEAVE MESSAGES. I NEED ANSWERS. WHATEVER. AT LEAST I TRIED.
- Coach: We have to focus on being productive and aligned with the Adjuster. After all, if we lose clients, we effectively don’t have jobs anymore. Let’s talk about what we know as fact and what we can control.
- Coachee: ME. I CONTROL ME. ME LEAVING MESSAGE AFTER MESSAGE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO DO ANYTHING BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO. AND THEN THAT LOOKS BAD ON ME AS IF I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING.
- Coach: You do control you, and anger will not resolve the situation. Take a deep breath. What information do you need from the Adjuster?
- Coachee: I need to know if I should move forward with this appeal.
- Coach: Okay, what have you done to communicate with the Adjuster so far?
- Coachee: I left multiple messages saying I need to know if we should move forward on an appeal for a specific case.
- Coach: Did you give background information, thoughts, and anything else that would help them be able to talk about it? How can you help them respond to you?
- Coachee: No. I mean, yea, actually, I did. It’s a case we’ve sent plenty of e-mails about. Everything needed is also in the post-hearing report. It’s their job to read those so they know what’s going on. But that’s why I’m reaching out – so I can just explain it all and make it easier for both of us. I’m actually DOING my job.
- Coach: So you’re not reaching out to find out if you should get an appeal. Instead, you’re reaching out to give information and have a conversation about potentially appealing?
- Coachee: Yea, that’s what I said.
- Coach: Is it?
Adjuster’s conversation with coworker:
- Adjuster: I have 12 MILLION e-mails, quotas that I feel I’m nowhere near hitting, I’m exhausted, and I have to deal with attorneys who keep wanting me to answer questions to stuff as if I remember every detail in these cases. Especially this one attorney and paralegal team – ugh – they don’t get it. And Angela keeps messaging me about those reports too.
- Coworker: Tell me about it. I keep getting requests for permissions to file RFAs with really long-winded e-mails that I just don’t always have time to read. I have to save them for later when I have time to concentrate. I need to file an RFA in my life.
- Adjuster: I don’t even mind when they send me all the info. It’s when they’re convinced I remember an e-mail from 8 days ago that I go crazy and get annoyed. I get 700 emails a day! How is anyone supposed to remember everything?!
- Coworker: I’d rather have them just call me and talk about it as long as I know when the conversation is gonna happen. This one group likes to just call me whenever they want to have long conversations, as if I’m just waiting on their call. I don’t even pick up anymore.
- Adjuster: I have to worry about a thousand things. I wish all these people would just give me a day of peace and make our lives easier. How’s your budget report even looking? I swear I’m gonna get canned if things keep up like this.
In the first conversation between the Coachee and the Coach, the actions being taken were not directly focused on the goal at hand. While the Coachee felt that all attempts at getting this answer were made, the focus was on getting a solution, not on how to communicate with the Adjuster effectively. In the second conversation, we see both Adjusters having very different perspectives on how they want to communicate.
So what is one of the main barriers in this situation? Alignment.
Alignment in coaching is defined as an agreement on a position in relation to goals. It is one of the key ingredients necessary for all types of relationships and all types of coaching. Coaches will often start their first sessions with clients by clearly determining their over-arching goals and making sure the client does not lose sight of their main vision. This alignment is then present between the coach and client. When clients are faced with communication roadblocks in other relationships, the coach often brings the client back to the over-arching goal and helps determine if alignment is present. Once alignment is reached by all parties, communication barriers can easily be overcome because perspective can be understood.
When alignment is not present or starts to fluctuate, perspective leading to misalignment tends to result in a plethora of thorny barricades such as:
- Overconfidence – being too sure that what you’re saying or doing is factual and pertinent
- Resizing – relating loosely-similar details from past situations to create false evidence for the current problem
- Inaction – accepting that things are what they are despite the potential for improvement
- Framing – positioning a new reality that removes focus from the actual problem
- Disabling – disempowering people or facts to help build onto a more accessible narrative
- Self-Bartering – negotiating the value of factual versus non-factual statements to weigh importance
Looking back at the first conversation between Coach and Coachee, you can see that the Coachee was, at first, very overconfident that the actions being taken were definitive. You can also see that framing, disabling, and inaction were present.
|Statements from Conversation||Perspective Barrier|
|“WHATEVER. AT LEAST I TRIED.”||Inaction|
|“AND THEN THAT LOOKS BAD ON ME AS IF I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING.”||Framing|
|“It’s a case we’ve sent plenty of e-mails about. Everything needed is also in the post-hearing report. It’s their job to read those so they know what’s going on.”||Disabling|
|“I’m actually DOING my job.”||Self-Bartering|
When coaches hear language in conversation resulting in barriers, they often attempt to ask questions that broaden perspective. This is exactly what attorneys and legal professionals do on a more technical law-based level. From interpreting the law to arguing counterpoints, the legal field is consistently brimming with the need to discuss perspectives and create alignment. So how do you overcome these kinds of obstacles when you notice them? Try using the SEED concept:
- Step Back from the situation to clear your mind of emotions. Objectivity is necessary!
- Evaluate what your actual over-arching goal is. Be clear for yourself!
- Examine if everyone involved has the same over-arching goal. Don’t assume!
- Determine your next logical action to bring alignment to everyone involved. Focus on solutions!
A S.E.E.D. of alignment creates a forest of results!
The more you can build a deeper alignment in any relationship you may have, the better the overall achievements will be. Focus on diminishing perspective barriers by asking yourself the following questions:
- What does overall success look like for me in this situation?
- What does success look like for others in this situation?
- How can I measure success in this situation?
- How can I try to understand things from other points of view?
- What are the actual barriers I’m facing?
- How can I overcome these barriers?
- How can I focus on maintaining alignment with those involved?
If you catch yourself needing to work through any of these questions in greater detail or if you find yourself feeling frustrated that someone isn’t seeing your point of view, remember that you always have a Coach at the ready to help! All the questions above lead to deeper conversations that bring potential action. Sifting through them will open your perspective so that you can discover logical positive actions to take.
Perspective Barriers are a type of Limiting Belief so don’t allow yourself to give into them!