COMMUNICATION SMOOTHERS by Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.
When you are "emotionally involved" in a topic of conversation, how well do you communicate? If you are particularly sensitive to a certain issue, how well can you speak directly about it? We humans have highly refined abilities to communicate. When two people argue, conflict, or are caught up in the emotions of the situation however, we often communicate very poorly. I want to share some methods and phrases which enhance and facilitate communication. These methods I refer to as communication "smoothers."
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Good communicators are aware of their own ability to choose how to respond to another. They do not react to others, but act from within to express who they really are and what they are thinking and feeling. They make statements like: "Let's look at our alternatives;" "I can always choose a different approach;" "I choose...;' "I prefer...;" "I will..." Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are not controlled by someone or some circumstance outside you. You always have the choice about what you are saying.
WAIT AND INCORPORATE WHAT THE OTHER SAYS, before continuing with your own train of thought or merely reacting to the last sentence spoken. Most of us tend to ignore what others say and either override their talking with our own, or rehearse silently in our heads what we are going to say next. Learn to wait and take in what the other is saying. They may be agreeing with you.
FOCUS ON WHAT IS RIGHT AND ACCURATE ABOUT WHAT THE OTHER IS SAYING: When we only focus on the disagreements or inaccuracies of what our communication partner is saying, we become confused and may even respond to something entirely off the topic. If you have a question about what you hear, say "My understanding of what you are saying is......is that accurate?"
DON'T CONTRADICT: What the other is saying is always valid for him/her. Others always have a different frame of reference than you, and the purpose of most communication is to mutually understand each others point of view. You may state your disagreement, but avoid the phrase, "Yes, but..." When you contradict another, you invite defensiveness or justification rather than clarification.
PERSIST IN TRYING TO UNDERSTAND, PRIOR TO BEING UNDERSTOOD. We often "go quiet" or leave the room when we feel frustrated, or want to use no response as a statement or weapon. Stay with the communication process until you understand the other and believe you are understood by the other (in that order of importance).
GIVE EQUAL AIR TIME: If you monopolize the conversation, you might as well be a radio announcer. You may never know if anyone is listening. Talking only to you can be pretty lonely.
KEEP YOUR VOICE PITCH AND VOLUME AT A COMFORTABLE LEVEL: Screaming may help relieve you of anger, but it rarely invites others to listen to what you have to say. Yelling does invite others to either defend themselves, or tune you out.
MAINTAIN A SLOW RATE OF SPEECH: We think about four times faster than we can talk. When you slow your speech pattern down, you have even more time to listen, think, and consider a response. Pauses may be very useful as communication smoothers.
MAKE SUMMARIZING STATEMENTS: Regularly take the time to summarize what you have heard, what you have said, and what you have accomplished in the conversation. Be sure and include your understanding of what the other has said as well as a quick review of what you said.
ADMIT NOT UNDERSTANDING AND ASK FOR CLARIFICATION OR ELABORATION. It is ok not to understand what the other is trying to communicate. It is not ok to "bust" them or the communication process, when you don't understand. Ask directly for the other to clarify or "say more" after admitting you don't understand yet.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF: Do you like what you are saying and how you are saying it? We are often told to listen to others. In fact, that is one half of the communication process. But listening to yourself is important as well. You might learn something about you as well as the topic you are discussing.
Practice these communication smoothers and you strengthen one of your own greatest skills...the ability to communicate.
Lloyd J. Thomas, PhD
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. He is available for coaching in any area presented in "Practical Psychology." As your Coach, his only agenda is to assist you in creating the lifestyle you genuinely desire. Theinitial coaching session is free. Contact him: (970) 568-0173 or E-mail: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com or LJTDAT@aol.com.