9 Quick Communication Tips
This blog is brought to you from a life---mixed with eccentric relatives, fun and laughs, bumps and bruises, added to a degree in Psychology. Hope you enjoy.
Our friends and family know us RIGHT?
They may or may not. What can really cause upset is COMMUNICATION!! It's tricky business.
Many times we hear in the midst of an animated or heated discussion, “I thought you meant….”.
It doesn't have to be the holidays or even a live gathering to have a family misunderstanding. So, let’s just say it can things can happen.
Are you clear in your communications? Let’s face it grandpa doesn’t understand all this technology so we can connect. What about all the arrangements of where, when and the all important is the wifi working!
Here are 9 quick tips to grow your communication skills and hopefully improve the holiday season celebrations.
1. It's been a long year and you haven’t seen these people/relatives for months or years and you don’t remember what they like or do for a living. Treat them like you might approach a conversation with a stranger, ask about something upbeat and general like their dog or baby to see how open they are to talking more. Be courageous.
2. Sometimes, we are listening but we don't understand what the other person is saying. On occasion, I say to my sweetheart, “I have no idea what you mean”. If the listener is looking at you with a question or frustration on their face, that’s your first clue, it’s time to rethink what you are saying. First, let go of the emotion and/or expectation. Next, give it another attempt only this time rephrase it in a way that you think THEY might understand you better. Speak from their frame of reference...Think of them.
3. People love to feel they are important. Give the person the kind of attention you do when you first meet a fascinating new friend. In other words, listen so as to hear and value that person. Be engaged.
4. Your nonverbal communication is vital to being heard. You are saying a lot without using words. Be intentional to communicate an open attitude: good eye contact, relaxed open stance, smile, and friendly tone to your voice. Notice theirs too, if you see tension or closed body language like crossed arms and lack of eye contact, maybe it’s time to lighten the conversation or give it a break for now. This matters if the conversation is live, with a mask, on the phone, or video conferencing. People can "hear" your smile. Watch your body.
5. Be very careful to listen for the end of their sentence. For some people that’s hard if you have a bad habit of interrupting. This is a good time to break that habit. The phone can be tricky, my friend frequently uses a pause in the middle of sentences, in person it’s not a problem but on the phone it can be challenging to figure out, so I have to remember and listen carefully. Avoid interrupting.
6. When we share conversation and ask questions we are using our language and our filters. We are using the words we have collected and put into our word bank over our lifetime. This comes from our experiences, our family heritage, plus time in history and location of our raising. See all those ours in that sentence! It’s your personal code. In addition, some words hold emotional charge for others. I was talking with a man and said the word “bored”. Wow, his face lit with fear. He shared with me, it was a VERY bad idea to say that word around his mom when he was growing up and it still held a lot of emotion for him. While we can predict their history. We can listen to their vocabulary, be flexible and aware of THEIR word bank to integrate it into your conversation. They will understand you better. Be aware of personal codes.
7. Think about what you want to say. This is important to two reasons. One so you can avoid excessive talking that moves in the chatter zone. Or the opposite, if you are a person of very few words. If that's you, think about what you want to say so you can purpose to find more descriptions or a story to highlight your point. People love a good story.
8. Do your best to accept people right where they are on their path. There are some very hot topics in our society. If the person you're visiting with is convinced of their politics, religion, or investment ideas, even though it may make your skin crawl, let yourself be ok. Let them have their opinions. You might even be able to say “I understand where you are coming from”. It doesn't mean you agree or are letting go of your passionate beliefs. Be curious and listen openly, you might just learn something you've not considered before. Respect them.
9. Our society relies so heavily on text and email but it's some of the worst ways to have clear communication. Phone is better. Try video chat (Facetime, Hangouts, Zoom) it’s a lot of fun and gets you closer to the best platform which is face to face. In person is still the best. Make your best choice.
We expect so much from friends and family in the area of communication, especially if we were raised with them, they live under our roof. Expectation can be a minefield leading to misunderstandings and even heartache. My hope is that some of these ideas can help communication in your personal and professional life.
Let’s hope all the communication surprises are like the one I had last night when chatting with my son about dinner ideas. I suggested homemade lasagna, cheesy garlic bread and salad. He said, "my vote is for hot dogs and whiskey!".
All the best,