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Effective communication may well be one of the most important life skills you can master. Why is this life skill so vital? Let's measure the outcomes of good communication:
~~ Feeling understood
~~ Increasced intimacy
~~ Shared meaning
~~ Strengthened trust
~~ Heightened compassion
~~ Less stagnation
~~ More momentum toward desired goals
~~ Enhanced ability to see and understand multiple perspectives in any given situation
~~ Better understanding of self
~~ Clearer understanding of person with whom you're communicating
There are a myriad of benefits to effective interpersonal communication skills.
Four Basic Elements of Powerful Communication:
1. The individual delivering the message does so with authenticity and a heightened sensitivity toward using language the receiver is open to.
2. The person receiving the messaage must decide to listen, seek clarity and trust that the presenter is interested in their needs too.
3. Both people take full responsibility for moments when they may be overwhelmed by the conversation, soothing oneself and the other as needed.
4. Both remain open to considering what the other has to say, work toward achieving common ground and seek a better sense of the other's position.
Step Number 1 ~~
About 95 percent of the time, the outcome of a conversation is set within the first two minutes of the talk. Here are some key strategies to beginning a successful conversation:
~~ Begin with a soft tone.
~~ If you are upset, calm down prior to initiating the conversation.
~~ Ask yourself if the time is right for this conversation.
~~ Share your need to have an important talk.
~~ Begin with a genuine compliment.
~~ If you are speaking with a loved one, reinforcing your love prior to getting into the message can make all the difference in achieving a positive outcome.
~~ Take time to focus your thoughts so you can say the most with the least amount of words.
Step Number 2 ~~
Be open to the other person's feedback. Many individuals fear that if they listen without interjecting their own opinions, the other person will assume they agree. Listening does not imply agreement. It simply means you're willing to consider what the other person has to say.
~~ Make an internal commitment to clear your mind and be fully present in the conversation.
~~ Ask for a few minutes if you need to and write down bullet points that you don't want to forget, if this will allow you to listen more deeply as the other person speaks.
~~ Be patient and wait until thjey're finished talking.
~~ Seek clarification by asking questions such as "If I understand you correctly, you are saying . . . . "
~~ Make eye contact to convey that you're listening.
~~ Breathe slowly.
~~ When the other person appears finished ask, "Is that all or is there any more?"
Step Number 3 ~
Many conversations will have turning points where people begin to get edgy ior defensive. These are "downturns." To ensure a conversation moves smoothly toward a win-win conclusion, you need to guard against defensiveness and take action immediately to calm the brewing storm.
~~ Be aware of your body becoming tense.
~~ Practice relaxing right in the midst of conversation
~~ Take several slow, deep breaths
~~ If you're speaking with a loved one, reach out and touch them.
~~ Restate the intention of the conversation and your fear that it's not going well.
~~ Take owneship in the moment, apologize for any crass statements and ask to move forwared.
~~ Suggest a short break for both of you to calm down.
~~ Offer to get the other person a refreshment
Step Number 4 ~~
It is important to realize and acknowledge that not all sensitive talks will have a solution. In fact, research suggests that approximately 69 percent of disagreements have less to do with the issue at hand than differences in personality, core values and world views. During these heated seemingly intractable discussions, giving the other peson the gift of understanding increases the goodwill and intimacy between each of you tremendously.
~~ Consider together which parts of your disagreement are solvable.
~~ Affirm the other peson's position
~~ For solvable problems, brainstorm what you have in common around the issue and find a workable solution you can both live with.
~~ Agree to try out the solutions for a period of time and then reassess how they are working for each of you.
~~ Agree to disagree: this can be invaluable for the two of you.
~~ Take ownership of your feelings using "I" statements.
~~ Accept that you each have your own style of communicating, even quirks that don't necessarily mean a talk is going poorly.
~~ If you are speaking with a loved one, always wrap up a heated discussion, especially when there has been a history of failing to achieve understanding with the person on prior occasions.