Siri-ously Patient and Kind

Talking to Siri and getting her to understand me has taken some time. Anyone who has used voice recognition software, or has watched somebody try and use voice recognition software, understands how people have to speak differently to these devices. “Directions to Home,” you say. “Read messages,” you say. In order to have effective communication with this machine, we have had to adjust how we speak and interact with it.

It is the reality that Siri only understands things when presented in a particular way. However, when we apply that same truth to other people, we lose our patience, pass judgment, and get upset that they do not understand us.

Perhaps we could show other people the same patience and kindness we show our phones by trying to say it another way and to see if we can adapt to their style instead of expecting them to adapt to our style.

Clear communication, in business settings, can mean the difference between a good decision or a bad decision. It can be the difference between happy employees and disgruntled ones. Clear communication can be the difference between helping a client or failing them. All of this can boil down to how well we are able to communicate with each other.

Do not misunderstand me. When I use the word communicate, I am not referring to your ability to get other people to understand your point of view. When I use the word communicate, I am not referring to your ability to persuade other people to your point of view. Communication, at its essence, is the art of connection between people.

In the case of an iPhone, it has its operating system which understands information in a very particular way. If you hope to connect with that device, you must adapt your thoughts and your language to its required format. Without your adjustment, there is wrong communication. You are not doing it a favor by changing how you speak and think; you are doing yourself and those you serve a favor by adjusting yourself.

When you take this same philosophy into a business setting you will discover that all of the people you interact with have their own operating systems, each understanding information in a very particular way. Their operating system also has a very unique way of sending information to you. Therefore, you have to be doubly flexible both when you are transmitting information to other people and when you’re receiving information from other people. This is where things can get tricky.

Things get tricky because sometimes their operating system accidentally triggers something inside of your operating system. While they may be trying to communicate to you their thoughts about a particular office procedure, they may accidentally touch a part of your emotional operating system. If you do not have your emotional operating system under control, it may take over and send all sorts of signals which will cloud and confuse the message trying to be received.

For example, somebody may be expressing how they feel a proposed new process may cause lots of mistakes. The word mistakes, you may feel, was directed at you and your emotional operating system may swing into action prompting the desire to say a few words back. However, when you’re able to avoid the triggers and look underneath at the real message trying to be communicated, you will be able to then make the decision not to react and to simply reply to the intent of the message.

The ability to avoid these types of situations takes no more thought or action than you would use when trying to speak to Siri on your iPhone. Before speaking to Siri, you may pause for a moment to think about how she needs to hear your words. After you think your words through, you push the button, speak, and watch to make sure she heard the words you intended her to hear. This is no different than the process you can use with humans.

When you are trying to communicate, simply pause for a moment to think about the best way to formulate your words, press the button in your head to speak, speak, and watch to see how the other person is receiving your words. If emotions, impatience, or judgment try to sabotage this process — stop them.

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