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The Art of Communication

The average person does not communicate well. Most communication is ineffective. Communication skills cannot be a substitute for authenticity. Caring, and understanding. They can help us express these qualities more effectively.

Good people skills not only get you what you want, they will bring out the best in your relationships.

There are virtually no jobs where communication skills do not make a big difference to our success. The actual work is only part of the job: the rest is managing or dealing with people. If we communicate well, this can account for at least half of our achievements.

People yearn for a closer connection with one another. They may be lonely, not because they do not have others around them; but because they cannot communicate well. If we can put a man on the moon, and cure diseases, why aren’t we all great communicators?

It is partly because we learn a good deal of our communication skills from our family. Chances are our parents were not perfect communicators, and neither were their parents. Our communication is full of road blocks that prevent real communication. Two of the main ones are judging, and sending solutions. When talking to another, it is difficult to listen to what they are saying without putting in your opinion. This is the nicer side of judging. The other is criticism and labeling.

With people close to us, we feel we should be critical. Otherwise, we don’t see how they will ever change. With others, we feel the need to give them a label. Such as Intellectual, brat, jerk, or nag. But by doing so, we cease to see the person before us; only a type.

Our good advice is rarely constructive. Because it usually represents a front to the other persons intelligence. We get so used to having roadblocks that we wonder what will be left if we remove them from our style of conversation. What remains is the ability to understand and empathize with other people. And to make our concerns clearly known.

Are your conversations a competition in which the first person to draw breathe is declared the listener? Not many people are good listeners. Research has found the 70 percent of oral communication is ignored, misunderstood, or quickly forgotten. There is a huge difference between merely hearing and listening.

The word listening is derived from two Anglo Saxon words: listen hearing and lognean. The act of listening means something more than just something physical. It is actually a psychological engagement with another person. Listening is not a single skill but if genuinely practiced, involves a number of skill areas – they are:

ATTENDING -85 PERCENT OF OUR COMMUNICATION IS NONVERBAL.

THEREFORE, ATTENDING SKILLS WHICH IS THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE ARE THERE FOR SOME REASON ARE VITAL TO COMMUNICATION. You are not looking somewhere else in the room. Your posture, eye contact and movement you show the other person that they are your focus. You are listening with your body.

When Rockwell was creating a painting of President Eisenhower, even though the President was amid the worries of office and an election campaign, for the one and one half hour he sat with Rockwell, Eisenhower gave the painter his full attention.

Think of anyone you know who is a great communicator and they will be the same. They fully attend with you with their whole mind and body.

FOLLOW UP- HOW we follow up what someone says to us. Instead of advising or assuring, provide a door opening phrase. This may involve noting the others body language. :”Your face is beaming today. Inviting the other person to speak. : “Tell me More” Care to talk about this? Whets on your mind?

Silence – Giving the other person space to say something if they want to. Notice our own body language- offering the language that we are ready to listen. Dong these things shows respect. The other person can talk or not talk as they wish. There is no pressure. A lot of people are initially uncomfortable with silence. But with practice it is not hard to extend our comfort zone.

We become adapt at seeing exactly how the other person sees their situation. Unlocking or bringing out whatever is waiting to be said. This is valuable to both parties.

PARAPHASING-Is a concise response to the speaker. Which states the essence of the others content in the listeners own words? When someone is telling us their problems, we report back to them in their own words and in one sentence what they are saying. This lets them know we are really listening. And indicates understanding and acceptance. It may feel strange doing this at first, and may make the other person wonder what we are doing. Most of the time, they will be glad that their feelings are being recognized.

Life is full of difficult conversations that we all avoid having. There are things to do to make them less difficult. What difficult situation do you face right now? Authors of DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS ON FINDING BEHAVIOR>

Results are powerful communication skills to bring opposite sides together.

What is a difficult conversation? – Anything you find it difficult to talk about. And try to avoid. For most people, there are no simple or easy ways to (1) fire someone (2) break up a relationship and (3) Confront your Mother-in-Law. (4) Raise the issue of prejudice, and (5) ask for a raise. Like throwing a hand grenade, coated with sugar, thrown hard or soft is still going to do damage. Throwing it tactfully is no answer. Being diplomatic will not work. We can’t hope that our niceness will go smoothly.

Instead of throwing a hand grenade or delivering messages to people, transform difficult conversation with replacing them with Learning Conversations. This way of communication involves work to master it, it can dramatically reduce the stress of our interactions with other people, and Learning conversations increase the confidence of all parties involved. Because the air of BLAME disappears to be replaced by listening. This raises trust and confidence all around. Conflict can be transmuted into understanding.

Difficult conversations are based on the idea that each difficult conversation is really three conversations. Above and beyond the words that are spoken, these other conversations are mostly internal and involve our perception of the conversation and what it means to us.

The What Happened Conversation: This is when we go through our perceptions’ of the outcome. Who said what? Who is to blame? Who was right? The problem is we never question our version of who is right or wrong. Nor, do we question that difficult conversations are about getting the facts right. As opposed to what they mean. They are”conflicts of perceptions, interpretations and values. When we shift our attitude from delivering message to how the other person sees things differently, immediately the conversation becomes less heavy and less emotional. Instead of offering our interpretation of the situation, we are offering this as only apperception.

How to I feel about what was said: Were the other person’s feelings valid? Are my feelings valid? What should I do if the other person is angry or hurt; many strong feelings enter into a difficult conversation. But, these are often not expressed. When two people are talking, there are several things going on in each of their minds concerning their feelings about the interaction.

Should we try to steer away from feelings altogether? Should we just try to stick to “the facts?” While this may be a nice idea, leaving feelings out of a difficult conversation is like having an opera without music. We may get the plot but we totally missed the point. Conversations, at their very core, are about feelings. We need better environments, not better people.

CHANGE BEHAVIORS BY REINFORCING ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION. You can’t give a person purpose or intention but you can make behaviors more attractive and others less so. We .can’t change a mind; we can change the environment that may prompt someone to act differently.

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