Communication challenges cause stress, loss of productivity, poor organizational performance, and reduced quality of life, both on and off the job. Consider the most stressful interpersonal challenges that you have had and chances are good that poor or inappropriate communication contributed to the problem.
Tips for Better Communication
At the core of many (if not most) stressful situations are interactions with people who may not be doing things the way that you'd expect. REMEMBER, the things that are the most stressful to you are the things that you care the most about but do not have control over! Example: Parents find this true because they can not control what happens to their kids. Relationships require attention and quality communication, and this is not usually an easy task. If you can control the behaviors of others you can at least control the way you respond!
Before you even begin an important conversation outline what you really need to say and make sure that you consider how to get your point across without the extreme emotions like fear, anger, or anxiety, that can cloud the main issues to be discussed.
The most important features of good communication are:
1. All people involved agree to communicate and have the time to participate.... Timing is everything!
2. You must learn to listen! Many people are thinking of answers or are dealing with their own fears/emotions and not clearly hearing what is being said. Listen with all of your senses not just your ears. Make eye contact. Watch body language.
3. If you are not clear on what your partner is trying to say...ask for clarification or repeat what you believe was said. Ask "open-ended" questions that require more than just yes or no answers...
4. If you can not handle the conversation, ask to take a break... but agree to return to finish the discussion. Take a walk for a time-out.
5. Do not keep repeating yourself or raise your voice to try to convince the other people. Forcing your thoughts will not usually work. Do not intimidate to win because you'll end up losing trust and the minds/hearts of other participants. If you get angry, tell people you are angry, do not act it out to demonstrate your rage and immaturity.
6. Pick your battles. Be more flexible about things that are not very important to you.
Tips for good listening:
Reduce environmental distracts and interruptions
Pay attention with your whole body - and - Look for Non-Verbal Communications (Body Language) - and - Listen to the feelings behind the message
Make eye contact - and - Show interest
Ask Open-ended questions (that encourage discussion of feelings)
Confirm and clarify what you have heard (Restate the main point if you are unclear.)
Do not take it Personally... It is just the other person's opinion, not necessarily fact.
Many people require coaching to develop the skills necessary to be most effective during important conversations. If you feel that you could benefit from some training or coaching to develop these skills which will enhance your productivity then please investigate the Executive Coaching Program for a the support that you may require.
By L. John Mason
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