CQ: ACE Your Awareness

Communication Intelligence: ACE Your Awareness 

Have you ever been driving along a highway at your typical speed and all of a sudden you get passed by someone going faster? You may think, “that person is crazy and reckless!” Later on, maybe you get stuck behind a slower driver and you become frustrated that they just can’t speed up. Interestingly, at no point do you get annoyed or angry with those going your same speed. This is because you identify with those drivers, they are behaving the same way as you and are in your “lane”.

Communication between individuals is very similar. Those “going in your lane” match your style of communication, and you can easily get your intended message across and both of you are clear and in sync. In contrast, when you are faced with someone either in the “fast lane” or “slow lane” compared to you, you miss stylistically, and frustrations naturally arise. There is no right or wrong style of communication, there is only understanding your own style and that of your listener, truly the important part is meeting your listener where they are, or “merging lanes”. This understanding is skilled Communication Intelligence. 

Communication Intelligence Is Not One Size Fits All 

In the last post, we introduced the concept of Communication Intelligence or “CQ” referring to your ability to communicate effectively with others. We like to think of CQ as a spectrum. People with high CQ are skilled communicators, while people with low CQ have room for growth and understanding. We use the ACE framework as a way of teaching effective communication. The first step to improving your CQ is A-Awareness. Awareness means being able to recognize your communication style versus others’ style, and realizing the impact of these differences. Once you gain Awareness, you can begin to adjust your tactics to “merge lanes” and form real connections to get your intended message across clearly and with more ease. 

STEP 1: SELF-AWARENESS

The first piece of awareness is self-awareness. You need to be able to understand your own communication style- what is your default mode of explaining your thoughts or conveying information. Stylistic differences in communication are shaped by preferences in several areas such as pace, language, directness, need for detail, and even what method of communication you prefer. Take time to also examine how you prefer to receive information – both sides of self-awareness make up the first part of becoming aware. 

STEP 2: OTHER AWARENESS

The second piece is gaining an awareness of others’ communication styles. Think back to when you first started your current job. It’s likely that in the first couple days your boss outlined their expectations for how they prefer to be contacted. For example, maybe they wanted to be met in person rather than talking over the phone, or perhaps they only wanted to be emailed between certain hours. This interaction was one-sided in which a superior outlined these expectations for you, but consider the impact if the conversation flowed both ways and you were able to tell your boss up-front how you prefer to receive information or how you best process information. Your working relationship with your boss would likely have a strong foundation because you were aware of each other’s preferences and could calibrate your communication accordingly.

Now picture if your entire team, co-workers and colleagues alike, could learn each other’s communication styles. By having teamwide awareness, people would be more conscious of the impact of their communication on others and could meaningfully alter the way they communicate to ensure their message is received as it is intended. The goal is to get your message across in the clearest way to your audience. Offering people the opportunity to express their communication preferences builds awareness for you to share information in the way that appeals to them. Additionally, fostering a climate where employees are allowed to express their communication preferences shows respect for each team member and may avoid feelings of frustration or disconnection. 

STEP 3: AWARENESS OF IMPACT

One last key to full Awareness is to continuously assess the impact of how you communicate with others, and how your team is communicating with each other. To assess the impact you should routinely ask for feedback in the form of surveys, focused meetings, or working with a trusted advisor to learn what is, and is not, working. Being receptive to feedback is integral to being aware of how you are communicating. 

Creating Your CQ Plan

The journey to Awareness, both self-awareness and audience awareness, can be tricky to navigate on your own. Having the right framework and language to analyze communication style is not an inherent skill. That is where we can help, Sailor’s Sweet Life offers tools and services to help you better understand yourself, how you prefer to interact with others and how others may prefer to interact with you. Through a combination of one-on-one coaching and team sessions, we can achieve Awareness together leading to skilled Communication Intelligence which results in highly productive teams and optimized outcomes. Please do reach out.

Next Article in the CQ Series: Connection

Once you have Awareness, you can move forward with actions that build Connection. We will explore the Connections part of the ACE Framework in the next article. 

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Effective Communication Starts Here

Through the Sailor’s Sweet Life Communication Intelligence™ program, you’ll get a new set of perspectives and actionable tools to help you communicate effectively with ANYONE.

(yes, even that person it feels impossible to see eye-to-eye with).