6 Secrets to Mastering Communication
Communicating with others is an essential skill in business
dealings, family affairs, and romantic relationships, and is an essential part
of any personal development effort. Do you often find yourself misunderstanding
others? Do you have difficulty getting your point across clearly? When it comes
to communication, what you say and what you don't say are equally important.
Being a good listener is quite crucial.
In my quest to become a better communicator, I came across a few things I will
have to overcome before I succeed:
Listen more carefully and responsively. Listen first and acknowledge what you
hear, even if you don't agree with it, before expressing your experience or
point of view. In order to get more of your conversation partner's attention in
tense situations, pay attention first: listen and give a brief restatement of
what you have heard (especially feelings) before you express your own needs or
position. The kind of listening recommended here separates acknowledging from
approving or agreeing.
Explain your conversational intent and invite consent. In order to help your
conversation partner cooperate with you and to reduce possible
misunderstandings, start important conversations by inviting your conversation
partner to join you in the specific kind of conversation you want to have. The
more the conversation is going to mean to you, the more important it is for your
conversation partner to understand the big picture. Many successful
communicators begin special conversations with a preface that goes something
like: "I would like to talk with you for a few minutes about [subject
matter]. When would be a good time?" The exercise for this step will
encourage you to expand your list of possible conversations and to practice
starting a wide variety of them.
Express yourself more clearly and completely. Slow down and give your listeners
more information about what you are experiencing by using a wide range of
"I-statements." One way to help get more of your listener's empathy is
to express more of the five basic dimensions of your experience: Here is an
example using one of the five main "I-messages" identified by various
researchers over the past half century: What are you seeing, hearing or
otherwise sensing?/ "When I saw the dishes in the sink..."
Translate your (and other people's) complaints and criticisms into specific
requests, and explain your requests. In order to get more cooperation from
others, whenever possible ask for what you want by using specific,
action-oriented, positive language rather than by using generalizations,
"why's" ,"don'ts" or "somebody should's." Help
your listeners comply by explaining your requests with a "so that...",
"it would help me to... if you would..." or "in order to..."
Also, when you are receiving criticism and complaints from others, translate and
restate the complaints as action requests. ....").
Ask questions more "openendedly" and more creatively. "Openendedly...":
In order to coordinate our life and work with the lives and work of other
people, we all need to know more of what other people are feeling and thinking,
wanting and planning. But our usual "yes/no" questions actually tend
to shut people up rather than opening them up. In order to encourage your
conversation partners to share more of their thoughts and feelings, ask
"open-ended" rather than "yes/no" questions. Open-ended
questions allow for a wide range of responses. For example, asking "How did
you like that food/movie /speech/doctor/etc.?" will evoke a more detailed
response than "Did you like it?" (which could be answered with a
simple "yes" or "no"). In the first part of Challenge Five
we explore asking a wide range of open-ended questions.
Express more appreciation.
To build more satisfying relationships with the people around you, express more
appreciation, delight, affirmation, encouragement and gratitude. Because life
continually requires us to attend to problems and breakdowns, it gets very easy
to see in life only what is broken and needs fixing. But satisfying
relationships (and a happy life) require us to notice and respond to what is
delightful, excellent, enjoyable, to work well done, to food well cooked, etc.
It is appreciation that makes a relationship strong enough to accommodate
differences and disagreements. Thinkers and researchers in several different
fields have reached similar conclusions about this: healthy relationships need a
core of mutual appreciation.
Copyright 2006 http://www.BurstCreativity.com
Personal Development Blog and Unconventional Thinking University
Author of MiWay Time Management System
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