Let’s face it: we could all be better communicators. And during an argument, an important meeting or when the stakes are high, it’s especially easy to get way off track. To be successful, you must assure that does not happen!
Use these tips to improve your communication and build better relationships:
- Use your eyes as well as your ears. Body language speaks volumes. Watch for rolling eyes, crossed arms, and other clues that tell you someone is bored, distracted, or tuned out.
- Echo what you hear. If you’re confused or need to confirm important information, explain in your own words what you understood.
- Pause. Conversations can race ahead, speeding from point to point. Allow natural breaks in conversations to absorb, think, and allow other people to speak up.
- Watch for the silent types. They’re often the ones full of good ideas who need an opportunity to be heard. Ask for their views if they don’t give them readily.
- Give your full attention. That means putting away the electronics, making eye contact, and avoiding the temptation to formulate your next point while someone else is speaking.
- Accept that some people just need to talk. Although it may be inefficient, there are those who need to talk their way through an issue. If you cut them off, you risk stoking the fires of resentment and paying for it later.
- Stay on subject. Conversations tend to drift from topic as people react to the last thing said. If necessary, write down the topic and bring it up when people get sidetracked.
- Summarize periodically. This helps everyone agree on what has been said and refocuses attention to the matter at hand.
- Keep an ear out for defensiveness. Make the environment safer by rephrasing statements with “I” instead of “you.” Instead of “You made me blow up,” try “I lost my temper when I heard …”
You can contact Joy Underhill at www.wordsbyjoy.com or (585) 742-1388.This column is written by members of the Rochester Women's Network (rwn.org).