Communication is a powerful tool. We know what it feels like to be tongue-tied, or unable to find appropriate words for a situation. We may be anxious about talking because we don’t know how another person will react or what the outcome or consequence might be. Yet everyone can gain more expertise in communication if they take the time and practice. When you practice consistently with everyone in your life, you’ll feel more successful in all your relationships. And when we feel learn to communicate with greater ease on a day-to-day basis, we experience more energy, more vitality because our energy is outward focused rather than self-focused. You may even experience having more fun together.
Learning to become at ease in all your relationships—whether you are having a conversation with your partner, your kids, a close friend, your boss, a colleague, even a 2 minute chat with a store clerk or a salesperson on the phone—makes your day go better. When your day goes better, the by-product is that you’ll be much more effective and productive.
Here are some simple tricks to put to work:
1. Show Interest. Actively listen to the other person. This is 75% of all great communication. Put your ego, your thoughts off to the side and focus on listening to the other person as though you have never heard them before, rather than making assumptions about what they might say.
2. Take Turns. No one is listening when two people are talking at the same time. Know that you can also have a time to be listened to if both of you want to have a good relationship. Also know that if you are not given an opportunity to talk it probably means the other person is not ready to hear your perspective anyway.
3. Bookend The Message. When you are relaying a difficult message, begin and end with the positive—your over-all good feelings toward the person and your intentions for a positive outcome for both of you. For example say, “ I really value our relationship (or, “I really love you”) and I want to work this out. (or, “want to become close.”) What would help me is to have no sarcasm when we discuss difficult things. I would be able to hear your feedback better without sarcasm, even though you may mean it to be humorous. And that’s what I want to do—I want to hear your feedback, because I really value how well we work together (or, “how close we are becoming.” Or “how much I love our relationship.”)
4. Get To The Point. Learn to use the Broken Record Technique. For example, if your main message tends to get lost in conversations that are difficult, or if either of you goes off on detours, rehearse your core message beforehand and stick to it – no matter how the other person might detour the conversation. This will keep you on track. It will help you deliver what is most important to you. Say your core message 2 – 3 times if needed. More than that means the other person is not ready to hear you.
5. It’s Important. Let the other person know that what you want or what you are saying is important to you, especially if they seem not to hear or if they discount what you are saying or asking for. Reaffirm your message by saying, “Well, I want you to know that this is important to me so I’d like you to think about it and let’s talk again in two days.” (or,..” on Wednesday.”)
6. Win/Win Mindset. Develop a mind-set of working toward mutually satisfying Win/Win outcomes to enhance your relationship. When you hold this as a value your interactions will come across from that intention and will be more warmly received if you are sincere.
7. Brainstorm, Then Decide. When you are trying to achieve an outcome or arrive at a conclusion, some situations require quick and immediate decision-making. However, in much of life there is less need to rush. If you are trying to come together on a decision, make time to come up with options. Do this by having a time to come up with options, to brainstorm, to think creatively.
8. “Build On” what another person has said. Rather than polarizing – taking or speaking an opposing position or view.
9. Touch helps ease difficult conversations. In close personal relationship, try walking and holding hands, or sit side-by-side, or even back-to-back.
10. Peripheral Vision. This is one time where looking away, but not at your phone or distractions may be beneficial to people hearing your message. In both personal and business relationships, believe it or not, less eye contact when you are angry or delivering difficult feedback eases the other person’s ability to listen, especially if they are reactive—or if they are in flight or freeze mode. By talking to the horizon or the floor, in a modulated voice, you can speak your truth, while at the same time owning it as your own, instead of aiming it at the other person.
11. Slow down! Remember you don’t have to resolve everything Right Now. Your goal should be to become EFFECTIVE! You know how to push your favorite people’s buttons, so you also know how to avoid them! Take your time, cool off, think it through and you’ll have wonderful opportunities to be communicate lovingly, kindly, diplomatically with all.
There are many articles on communicating at work, so keep checking out others on the blog. Here’s an especially great article on how to have difficult conversations with people, with links you’ll want to check out:
For communications on the home front, check out my resources on these web pages:
Dr. Jan Hoistad
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs/Business Transformation Consultant/ Career Coach/Executive Coach Relationship Expert, Blogger, Author
Dr. Jan Hoistad is passionate about helping professionals, business owners, partners, and teams develop the skills necessary to achieve success and fulfillment in both their occupational pursuits and personal lives. With 35 years of experience, Dr. Hoistad has been a pioneer in the field of professional coaching. She’s advised countless CEO’s, executives, business group heads, emerging leaders, partners, teams, and professionals in career transition and business development, teaching them how to dig deep, and sometimes loosen up, so they can start living by their values, finding their purpose, and achieving their professional and personal goals with intent and confidence. By helping professionals see that personal wholeness is a means to achieving optimum personal and professional performance, Dr. Hoistad provides her clients the tools to become catalysts for change in their own businesses, careers and lives. They learn to leverage their strengths, build on their expertise, and expand their influence to become true innovators in their fields.