Sunday, January 10, 2016

How Well Do You Communicate?

December 9, 2014

If you want to improve your relationship with your children, your spouse, your coworkers, or anyone else, learn to acknowledge their feelings before you seek to fix their problem. 

Have you ever speaking too soon, saying, "You should..." or "What I would do is..."?

We all do. In our eagerness to help, we jump right over the most important thing; acknowledging how they feel. At best, people are only partially ready to hear your ideas at this point. Worst-case scenario, they feel like you've shut them down. To open their ears to your suggestions, take just a moment and ask yourself, "How is this person feeling right now?" Then articulate it. "You sound frustrated," or "you seem sad about that," are simple yet powerful observations.

The reason it works on everyone, from children to CEOs, is that our human nature yearns to feel understood. Try it, and watch your communications flourish.

Nearly every contact we make involves communications skills. Speaking and listening, our attitude, speech patterns, the words we use, the tone of our voice, our body language and sometimes even the silences all play a part in how successful our communications are.

Is there still room for improvement in your communication with that one or two special person(s)? To find out how well you communicate, answer each statement true or false.

1. I use I/my statements and take responsibility for what I say.

2. I speak specifically and personally, instead of generally and abstractly.

3. I keep my message and my language simple. I get to the point and don't try to confound people or impress them with verbal gymnastics.

4. I hesitate before I speak or respond, giving myself a pause to be sure I want to speak and am clear on what I want to say. If I need to, I check my motives before I say anything.

5. My body language corresponds with my verbal language and my tone. I check my tone (especially in written communication) to be sure it corresponds with my message.

6. I listen to the other person and don't respond until they have completed their thought. I don't try to formulate my answer while they're still speaking.

7. I don't have to fill every pause. I understand silence can sometimes play an important part in communication.

8. If I'm not sure what I want to communicate, I check it out with someone I trust. If I need to, I practice before I say it to the person.

9. I don't hold back when I need to say something. I say what I need to say in a timely manner. If I know what I need to say might cause tension, I ask for time to talk instead of interrupting or choosing a time when the other person is distracted or there isn't enough time to explore the subject.

10. I don't make nice or gloss things over, or say something isn't important when it is or that it doesn't matter when it does. I mean what I say and say what I mean.

11. I understand communication is two-way. I don't just have my say and not listen to the other person's response, or ask if they want to respond.

12. When I don't understand what someone has said, I ask for clarity.

13. I don't assume anyone else knows what I'm thinking or feeling unless I tell them.

14. I don't yell, threaten, bully or verbally abuse anybody.

15. When I say something out of line or something for which I am sorry, I try to correct my misstatement and make amends or apologies where necessary.

Give yourself one point for every True response.

13-15 Points: Congratulations. You've got good communications skills and you use them.

9-11 Points: Though you may understand good communication skills, you need some practice.

0-8 Points: You would benefit from some training and education in communications skills and techniques.

I have to admit that one of my biggest communication problems with people I love is that I speak TOO FAST. To change, I need to have awareness, knowledge, and skills, and I need to be intentional. How about you? What kind of improvements do you need?

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19-20)
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

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