Are you communicating or talking?

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Monday, August 20, 2012 at about 11am.

Ian is three and a half years old. He, like most three year olds, loves to talk and ask questions.

His mother and I have found ourselves, as most parents do, only listening to a small fraction of what he says. A bad habit that carries to our other children as well. This was made especially understood one day, not too long ago, when he was saying something to his mother and she replied with her normal response of, “Mmm hmm.”

His response was a frustrated, “Mom, don’t say mmmm hmmm!”

To test him a few days later I responded to him with, “Mmmm hmm.”

He told me the same thing, “Don’t say mmmm hmmm!”

He wanted to be heard. He wanted to be understood. He’s not yet four years old but he understands when he’s being ignored.

Yesterday I had a unique opportunity to sit and talk with my 11-year-old for over an hour. We do talk on a regular basis but we usually don’t have that much time to just focus on each other with nothing stealing our attention. No TV. No Internet. No games. Just the two of us.

It was nice to be able to sit with him and just talk. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from someone (even someone less than 1/3 your age) when you just sit and truly communicate.

One of the key things I learned was how often he is not heard. How often he talks about things that are important to him and no one listens.

Of course, I used this as a teaching opportunity to point out that one thing he should really try to focus on is learning how to talk in a way and at a time that others will want to take interest. However, this was a great learning opportunity for me as well.

How often do you truly listen to what others have to say? How often do you really take the time to understand their point of view?

Too often, with my family, friends, employees and customers, I realize that I listen to only part of what they are saying and then fill in the gaps with my assumptions. I find that most often I fill in the gaps properly. Perhaps that’s to my disadvantage because it enforces the actions I take to communicate improperly.

Mary Englebrite said, “The problem with communication is the assumption that it has taken place.”

Take a step back. Try to see how your responses to others demonstrate you care about what they say or demonstrate that you are simply ignoring them.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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