Your answers indicate that you have room to improve your communication skills. Remember, conscious communication is an advanced skill. It’s alright that you haven’t mastered it yet. Just by completing this assessment, you’ve already taken the first step to becoming a more effective communicator. Now, let’s go over the correct answers and the reasons they are the preferred choices for conscious communicators.
1. As a business leader, you’ve put together a team to launch an initiative to remedy a wide-spread issue within your company. A few weeks into the initiative, you’ve seen no improvement. What is your next step?
CORRECT: Collect feedback on how you could’ve better planned and executed this effort.
REASON: When an initiative doesn’t have the desired effects, it’s easy to place the blame on outside forces when often the source of ineffectiveness lies within ourselves. It’s best to gather information from team members and key players in an effort to see how your actions/decisions affected the situation before looking for what others might’ve done wrong.
2. Imagine you are working on a team project with a classmate, and he or she doesn’t provide quality work for their half of the responsibilities. How do you proceed?
CORRECT: Talk to your partner about what they didn’t understand and ask how you could help them complete their half of the project in a way that will ensure a higher score.
REASON: Often when a member of your team underdelivers, it is due to a lack of understanding rather than a lack of caring. Working with them to clarify expectations is more constructive than meeting them with scolding or simply doing the work yourself.
3. Until now, your child has been a straight-A student, but they’ve just brought home a report card with 4 A’s, 1 B, and 1 C. How do you start a conversation with your child concerning their grades?
CORRECT: You make a point to praise them for their higher grades and ask them about which class they enjoy the most.
REASON: We all have areas we excel in and areas we don’t. We tend to focus too much on our weaknesses when we should instead be recognizing and nurturing our strengths and talents. You can address the poorer grades later, but starting the conversation with your child’s strengths shows that you care more about their growth than their weaknesses.
4. Imagine you are the general manager of a popular local restaurant. You’ve noticed an increase in negative online reviews in the last couple of months. What are your initial thoughts on improving customer satisfaction?
CORRECT: Assess what you and the other members of management could do to address customer complaints through your leadership.
REASON: Positive organizational change begins with leadership. Take ownership of your role in any situation before looking for what aspects to change elsewhere.
5. Imagine you are a physician and a patient you discharged last week is back in the ER. What are your first thoughts regarding the reason for their return visit?
CORRECT: I wonder if I missed part of the underlying problem.
REASON: Self-reflection should always be your first consideration. If you begin by blaming others involved before knowing the facts, you come off as accusatory and defensive, neither of which are pleasant or constructive.
6. About a month in advance, you and your spouse agree to attend an event together. Four days before the event, your spouse schedules an important meeting during that time and thus will no longer be able to come with you. How do you approach the situation?
CORRECT: Try to be as understanding as possible, and calmly discuss ways that you could work together to avoid problems like this in the future.
REASON: Engaging in a productive discussion about how a miscommunication happened and how you could work together to avoid similar situations in the future will ultimately help you see the other person’s perspective and communicate more effectively moving forward.
7. One of your coworkers tends to come by your desk unannounced to have lengthy conversations. Sometimes the conversations are work-related and constructive, but they frequently disrupt your productivity. What do you do?
CORRECT: Communicate with your coworker that while you want to continue to share ideas, it’s best if you plan conversations beforehand.
REASON: Your coworker has no way of knowing that their actions disrupt you until you tell them. Be honest about the situation and work together to find a viable solution.
8. You confide in a friend about a problem you are currently facing in your personal life and ask for their advice. They respond with advice that doesn’t seem relevant. What is likely your first thought?
CORRECT: I did not effectively convey my situation in a way that they could understand.
REASON: Often, even when we feel that we are communicating clearly, the way our message is being received does not actually line up with our intended meaning. It’s important to check that the receiver grasps your meaning before moving forward.
9. You are giving a presentation to show your team progress on a project and share important information needed to move forward. Almost immediately, a landscaper begins working right outside the window, making it hard for anyone to hear what you are saying. What do you do?
CORRECT: Excuse yourself to go outside and speak to the landscaper about moving to a different area for the duration of the meeting.
REASON: The purpose of this meeting is for those present to understand the information that is being shared. If there is a distraction that is hindering communication, it’s best to address it head-on, so your message can be absorbed and understood in the way you originally intended.
10. When you are speaking to a group, how well do you feel you communicate your ideas?
CORRECT: It depends on the situation, but I always follow-up to ensure that my message was understood in the way I intended it.
REASON: Whether you believe yourself to be a superior communicator or simply an average one, the most important element of effective communication is checking to see if your audience understands the message. No breadth of vocabulary or amount of repetition can compensate for an audience that simply doesn’t grasp your intended message.
Now that you have a better understanding of what it means to be a conscious communicator, it’s time to continue your journey. Eric M. Eisenberg and Sean E. Mahar’s book Stop Wasting Words is the go-to guide for current and aspiring leaders to improve how they communicate. By understanding what it takes to be a conscious communicator and putting those skills into practice, you will be able to improve your life, your relationships, and your organization. Order your copy today!