We all have a need to be heard and understood. It’s part of being human. And it’s also critical in our life and business.
Think about the number of conversations you have in a day. Go ahead and count them. Count how many conversations you’ve had just today. Even if you don’t include the brief interactions with store clerks or toll takers, you’ll still be amazed at the number of conversations and how quickly they accumulate.
There was a survey done in 2010 which discovered adults have an average of 27 conversations in a day. Each conversation is an average of 10 minutes. That adds up to 4.5 hours a day or 68 days every year!
That’s a lot of time and energy being spent on both sides of the conversation.
Of course, your lifestyle and type of work will influence how many conversations you have daily. What’s the average for you?
The number of conversations is undoubtedly impressive, but what’s really interesting is what we’ve learned about those conversations.
That same 2010 survey also uncovered a very concerning statistic – 43% of the average 27 daily conversations were deemed pointless by the people surveyed. That means just under 2 hours of that 4.5 hours per day of discussion were pointless.
Is anyone else concerned about that number?
Could it be that people just didn’t care? I couldn’t believe that about every conversation, and if it was true, there’s not much I could do about it, so I decided to put my energy into focusing on those who had the intent to have meaningful conversations but somehow missed the mark.
What are the obstacles that are keeping us from connecting in a meaningful way in conversations?
I began to ask my clients, coworkers, participants at all my workshops what communication obstacles they had in their professional lives. Here are the 3 of the most common responses.
The first obstacle centered around some type of fear. Whether it was fear of public speaking, fear of failure, or fear of not being accepted. The variety of fears were as diverse as the type of people and the situations they encountered.
The second obstacle is chaos. Whether it was getting lost in a sea of other people talking, in the information overload that we experience every day in our inboxes, our social media streams, even in competing for attention in a meeting – there was just too much going on. There was also a group that said there was too much chaos in their heads, and they couldn’t figure out what to share in conversations, so they didn’t share anything.
The third obstacle is lacking the impact you intended. What many of us would consider a failure in communicating. Your intended impact and your actual impact are not in alignment.
Explore your conversations for the next week. How many do you have? Where do they take place? So you have the impact you intend? What obstacles do you encounter when trying to get your message across?
Gather this information, and in the next article, we’ll look at some of the ways to move from fearful to confidence, from chaotic to clarity, and from ineffective to impactful.