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What was the hardest element of effective communication for you to master?

A Real Challenge of Effective Communication

I believe that there are many real challenges in mastering the art of effective communication.   So, today, I’d like to touch on the question, “What was the most challenging element of effective communication for me to master?

For me, my journey in understanding effective communication has been in mastering empathy.

This may seem unexpected and is not a typical answer, but it’s the honest truth. 💡

As I discovered in my journey, I can now say that mastering this emotional skill was crucial in the Agile world.

Navigating An Unanticipated Hurdle

I must admit that I’m not sympathetic by my very nature. When I see somebody upset, I don’t naturally have an immediate response or urge to become upset with them.

In fact, in my early days, I didn’t understand why they would be upset and because of that, I just carried on as normal. For me, it was business as usual.

As you can imagine, that doesn’t always go down well. And this approach only led to increased tension and a further disconnect.

Wake-Up Call

Early on, I realised a glaring truth, which was that most people don’t respond well to indifference.

My attitude only made them more upset. And if I’m brutally honest in my head, this all made them seem less helpful to me.

What I needed was a paradigm shift, a shift towards empathy and understanding. 🌱

Seeing their distress compounded by my lack of empathy was a wake-up call.

This was the start of my empathy journey and I started to engage my cognitive empathy.

The Empathy – It’s Learnable

Realising my indifference led me on the road to working on improving my levels of empathy and on my journey, I quickly realised that as humans, we’re able to learn what we may think of as ‘unlearnable’. 🌟

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been working on my empathetic side for a long time now, and I’ve learned it’s something you can acquire over time. 🎯

I still accept the fact that people get upset, but I’ve taken it a step further by attempting to understand how they feel, although I can’t know exactly.

Ongoing Journey

The empathy exercise is still deliberate for me, and it requires me to consciously think about how I would feel in their situation.

While some individuals might be naturally empathetic, for me, it’s still an active process, but one that’s definitely worth the effort.

Tailoring Conversations – It’s Not One Size Fits All

Learning to be more empathetic and trying to understand people’s emotions and where they’re coming from has helped me learn to tailor my conversations.

It’s about delivering messages with respect to where they are emotionally and understanding when to approach a topic and when to step back. 💡

My Final Thoughts

Reflecting on my journey, I can say without a doubt that the most significant thing I’ve had to learn is to bring empathy into the game and to try to understand people’s emotions, which I know takes time.

It’s an ongoing journey, one that requires time and patience. But, the impact it has on communication is profound and rewarding.

Are you keen to explore the many vital communication skills that lead to effective teamwork? 🚀

Join my Agile and Scrum courses, where we delve deeper and not only learn about these principles but also provide a platform for you to practice them in real-world situations.

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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