In my previous column, I uncovered the ways in which we sabotage our listening, and I explained how to become an effective listener, as well as the benefits of doing so. If you have taken on the task of developing and improving your listening skills, you are probably amazed at how often you find yourself not truly listening. I was! And, you may even be pleasantly surprised by the fact that as you listen more intently, those you are speaking with are returning the favor.
Now, let’s consider the other vital aspect of communication: your actual use of words. Often times, we limit the communication process by getting caught up in the differing personalities between ourselves and others. This is not necessary or effective. Rather than letting your personality and that of the other person get in the way, see the best in those you are communicating with. Look past the illusion of their personality, and yours as well. Speak to the best in them, from the best in you. Underneath every personality is a person just like you, who is doing their best on this journey of life. Be open to those you are speaking with.
Next, create a safe environment for the communication to take place. This is created in you first. Choose to be safe within yourself so that no matter what the other person says, you will not be hurt by it. After all, it is merely their perspective and not necessarily true. Know who you are and do your best to not take things personally. Then, contribute to a safe environment for the other person by creating a situation where there are no assumptions, judgments, or criticisms; where there is no price to pay for being who they are. A safe environment for communication is not what most of us are accustomed to. It is, however, what we want and it leads to far more pleasant and successful communications.
Choose to stay present in the moment, using effective listening to truly hear another’s perspective. When you are truly listening, not only will you hear the words being spoken, you will also be able to watch their body language for signs of how they feel and what they think. We are all masters of reading body language, as we have been unconsciously developing this skill since we were infants; we needed to know what was going on with others, even before we could understand words. When you are absolutely present in your listening, you will gather valuable information that will help you use your words much more effectively.
Most people are in the habit of telling, rather than asking questions. Typically, people are not as fond of being told as they are of being understood, and that requires questions. Asking open-ended questions draws out another’s perspective even more, thereby creating greater clarity for everyone. Avoid giving advice or telling others what they should do or who they should be. Instead, recognize their unique genius and honor that by exploring options with them through questions that guide them toward personal clarity and truth. By doing so, they will discover their own answers, with your help. Come to understand the person you are speaking with and you will be in a much better position to work with them for a solution.
When you come to the point in a conversation where you have the opportunity to share your perspective, it is very important for you to be impeccable with your words. Avoid gossip. Say only what you mean, and mean what you say. Use your words with the intention of having a positive impact in the other person’s reality. Share your truth in such a way that others come to understand you and draw closer to you in communication and relationship. Always maintain a positive perspective towards those you are speaking with and the situation you are both communicating about. Going negative will never work to anyone’s advantage.
Ineffective communication is at the heart of every negative relationship in your life and business. In order to change this, a different approach is necessary. In every situation where I have trained individuals or teams to be more effective in their communications, the obstacles that they were repeatedly encountering quickly began to vanish and completely faded away with the implementation of this new approach. By speaking to others as you would want them to speak to you, and by adhering to the very powerful intention of creating solutions through your communication, your reality will change for the better, forever.