12 Practices to Strengthen Your Communication Style
With the amount of talking we all do, it would be a good idea to step back and assess how well you think people listen when you are talking. Do you feel heard? Do you think that others value what you have to say? Do you have a voice?
The answer may vary depending on the situation, or on the person you are speaking with. Certainly some people listen better than others, and the depth of a relationship can make a difference. Even so, the question still stands: Do you feel heard?
Whether you answer yes or no, here are some ideas and practices that can help.
Staying in Your Dysfunctional Comfort Zone
A friend asks you for advice about a problem she's having, and every suggestion or idea you offer is met with "Yes, but that won't work for me because . . ." You've had the experience? I'm sure you have. I think we all have. Sometimes it happens in a one on one situation with a friend or colleague, and sometimes in a bigger arena like at a meeting at work where there is a brainstorming session to help solve a problem, and the suggestions are shut down as fast as they come up.
Communicative versus Evocative Communication
Have you ever been in a conversation where each new statement that is uttered leaves you feeling like you are sinking further and further into quicksand? Most everyone has. As you say something, the other person responds in a way that seems to totally miss what you were trying to get across, and the more they say, the more the whole conversation becomes muddled. Finally you just give up because you can't tell what's going on anymore, and it becomes clear that there isn't a remote chance that any real communication is going to take place.
A 3-Step Process
Can you guess what the worst thing is to say to someone who's angry?
Unfortunately, that is everyone's first instinct and often is exactly what is said. The intention is good. You know that if the angry person can calm down, then it's possible to talk about the issue at hand and maybe resolve it. The problem is that when you say "calm down", it just makes them angrier.