‘The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been achieved.’ 
George Bernard Shaw

Overview

Let’s face it when you communicate with someone who is constantly on ‘transmit’, it can be a bit like talking to the radio! Those who spend too much time in their own little bubble can, if they are not careful, end up working on the assumption that the other person has understood the message they are trying to get across. This is when successful communication breaks down and becomes an illusion.

It is, of course, a lot easier to see something from your own perspective and much more difficult to look at it from another person’s, especially when we all have such different personalities, backgrounds, ideas, beliefs and values.

There is a danger that if you are not careful, poor communication can lead to negativity, insecurity, backstabbing and blame. This in turn can also affect your stress levels and self-esteem, especially when you don’t understand something or feel that you have been misled. However, communication can also have a very positive effect when it works well and can make people feel valued, respected and even loved.

Being present when you are with someone is key, not just because you will be able to properly listen to what they are saying, but also because it is important to the other person’s self-esteem. When we feel we are not being listened to, it can make us feel insecure and lower our self-esteem. Active listening is therefore really important. Being present also means not using your mobile phone or other mobile technology whilst you are having a face-to-face conversation with someone else, as this can make you look as though you are not interested in the person you are with.

You talk to yourself subconsciously a great deal and you need to give yourself permission to listen to someone else. This means you literally have to command yourself to think ‘I am now going to give this person my full attention and really listen to what they have to say’.

Avoiding interrupting, jumping to conclusions, filling the gaps or making judgements will help you to listen to the whole message, not just to a part of it, which is a trap we can all so easily fall into.

Self-confidence is also a huge help when communicating as it enables you to communicate your message clearly and assertively. This means getting your message across in a positive, concise and constructive way that works just as well for the person who is on the receiving end as it does for you.

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
Plato

Communication – Steps to Success

  • Understand your communication style
  • Positively accommodate other communication styles
  • Be present when you are with people
  • Develop mobile technology etiquette
  • Actively listen and focus
  • Be positive and assertive.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is the ability to express your thoughts and opinions while respecting the thoughts and opinions of the person you are communicating with; it is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies your needs to the other person.

People who have mastered the skill of assertiveness are able to greatly reduce the level of interpersonal conflict in their lives and therefore significantly reduce a major source of stress.

Intelligent Communication

The key to excellent communication is to communicate intelligently and positively. Interestingly, a theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr.

Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University. He suggested that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr Gardner proposed eight different bits of intelligence to account for a broader range of human potential in both children and adults. These intelligence are: 

Listening Skills

Listening to and understanding what others communicate to you is the most important part of a successful interaction. When a person decides to communicate with someone, they do so to fulfil a need: they want something, feel discomfort, or have particular feelings or thoughts.

In deciding to communicate, the person selects the method or code that they believe will effectively deliver the message to the other person. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal. When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding or interpreting it to understand its meaning. Effective communication exists between two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender’s message in the same way the sender intended it.

The Three Basic Listening Modes:

Positive Self-speak

Have a good listen to your personal vocabulary – how do you speak to yourself? Vocabulary is something you will very rarely pay conscious attention to, yet it can give away a host of information about us to the perceptive listener.

Like appearance, vocabulary and speech form part of that important ‘first impression’, you make on other people. While the tone and timbre of our voices creates either a pleasing or grating effect on the listener, our choice of words conveys our attitude and emotional stance. There is a very interesting relationship between vocabulary and attitude.

When you describe an emotional state or use words to express an emotion directly, you reinforce that emotion. If, for example, you say, ‘Damn!’ when you make a mistake, you reinforce the anger you feel about that mistake. If, however, you say ‘Oops!’ instead, you are conveying to your subconscious mind that the mistake was minor, something not worth getting too excited about.

Modifying your vocabulary is one way to reduce the number of times you experience strong, stressful emotions like anger. The same principle applies to positive emotions.

Social Styles

Understanding your communication style is very important. Psychometric (translated from Latin, meaning measurement of the mind) tests are good at helping you to understand your strengths and limitations. One popular model is based on four personality types and social styles. Below is a brief description of each of these type and styles.

It may be worth trying to work out which style describes you best. Whilst we cannot cast people into concrete pigeon-holes and we may demonstrate attributes of each style, it is likely that one style will be dominant.

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