This is the Eighth blog of a series, “12 Simple tricks to Success” from Findamentror.com. We reveal one trick each month for you to read and practice so that in 12 months you’ll have developed some habits that can expedite your success. Enjoy!
Just like every trade and profession has its’, “tricks of the trade”, all very successful people have 12 tricks they do, no matter what industry or institution they work in. They do those things consistently. They are important processes that great and successful people follow.
Trick number Eight:
Develop Healthy Communication Skills
. . . including self-awareness, speaking from “I” point of view, listening,
clarifying, and paraphrasing.
Effectively communicating with others is one of our most difficult challenges as humans. Early in the history of human communication, people made pictures on rock to communicate or commemorate events in their lives. Over many thousands of years, humans evolved combinations of pictures that were less like representations of physical things and more like symbols of ideas.
These eventually turned into the world’s alphabets, as we know them today. Language in all its forms is a tool for communicating with others in order to influence them, learn from them, or share with them.
Today, there is not only language, but also many theories about how to use it effectively. In business and personal relationships we can use a number of well-known techniques to increase the effectiveness of our communications. I recommend to anyone wanting to enhance their communication skills to take communication workshops. These allow us a little time to practice with others, but more importantly they show us how that practice may be continued in everyday life.
When seeking a communication workshop, make sure it offers the following techniques as part of the curriculum:
self-awareness, speaking from the “I” point of view, clarifying, paraphrasing, and, most important, listening.
Communication begins with the self. “Becoming self-aware” involves learning to ask why whatever we’ve heard, tasted, smelled, or touched has caused us to think and feel in certain ways. It’s about questioning our thoughts, feelings, intentions, and actions. When we become self-aware, we are able to more clearly communicate with others about who we are at any given moment.
Speaking from the “I” point of view means acknowledging that what I feel may not be the same as what you feel. In our society we often speak from a “you” point of view. Consider, for example, the difference between this statement, “You know how you feel when someone steals from you,” and this one: “When someone steals from me I feel invaded.” The second is more clear and direct. It owns the thoughts and feeling and does not project it on the other person.
Speaking from the “I” point of view offers a clear way of sharing what we are experiencing without assuming that another is thinking or feeling the same thing. It is a pattern of speaking that encourages us to take responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings. In a workshop, you will learn the different ways of speaking from the ‘I’ point of view.
Paraphrasing and clarifying refer to repeating in our own words what we think another has said. It’s about getting clearer and can be about asking for additional information. Their purpose is to confirm or expand our understanding of what someone has said, which leads to more effective communicating.
They are particularly useful when we’re disagreeing with someone, having difficulty understanding, or wanting to let another person know that we understand.
In these situations, we can try beginning more of our sentences with, “What I hear you saying is . . .” Then ask; Am I correct? It’s amazing how often we misinterpret others’ words.
Effective listening is a skill that takes continual practice. Often while others are speaking, we turn our thoughts to what our response will be. Doing this interferes with true listening and may negatively affect an interaction because we haven’t heard everything that’s been said.
The more we listen, the more we hear, and the more informed we are before we speak. God gave us two ears and one mouth as a hint that we can listen twice as much as we speak. Take the hint. Listen more than you speak and you will have greater opportunity for learning.
Communicating effectively requires much practice. At first the new ways of speaking may feel awkward, but as we practice more, our speech becomes more natural and our communication with others becomes more effective. Some develop new habits quicker than others but we can all develop new habits.
Learning a new habit can be time-consuming. It took about five years for some of the communication skills I learned to become habitual. Fifteen years later I still catch myself speaking less than effectively at times. Be patient with yourself, but don’t procrastinate. The longer you put off learning effective communication skills and making them a habit in your life, the longer it will take to grow your networks and achieve your goals.