In business or networking meetings, at the office, and with your mate, family, or friends, we all know that communication is a powerful tool. We also know what it feels like to be tongue-tied, or unable to find appropriate words for a situation, or to be nervous about talking because we don’t know how another person will react or what the outcome or consequence might be. Yet everyone can become an expert in communication if they take the time.

To remove the anxiety or stage performance, think about it like having a good conversation.

To feel more successful in all your relationships, and to have more vitality—maybe even fun together—learn to become effective in all your conversations. Whether you are having a conversation with your partner, your kids, a close friend, or someone at the office try these tips and keep refining them as you strive towards better communication:

  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. Go For The Gold. Develop a mind-set of working toward mutually satisfying Win/Win outcomes to enhance your relationships.

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. Try walking and holding hands, or sit side-by-side, or even back-to-back. Believe it or not, less eye contact when you are angry (especially with males) eases a person’s ability to listen!

10. 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.


Dr. Jan Hoistad