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Here’s a first draft of a top ten communication tips – there’s plenty of material here for a blog post for each entry, and probably dozens more really useful tips. What would you add? Let me know in the comments section.
- Tell the truth – Resist the temptation to exaggerate or understate for effect or to emphasise a point. Be as factually accurate as possible – without boring the pants of people!
- Be kind – This may be more important in your internal communication than your communication with others. Either way, avoid the temptation to use the truth as a weapon, and avoid harshness – both in tone and in content.
- Create harmony – Resist getting caught up in gossiping and avoid slagging people off. Speak appreciatively of others as often as you can, and break the habit of internal moaning.
- Make sure what you say is worth hearing – Talk about the things in life that are genuinely significant – go beyond property prices, technological gadgets and celebrity gossip so that you use communication as a way of genuinely connecting with yourself and other people.
- Is now the right time? – It might have been preying on your mind all day, but is it really ideal to pounce on somebody as soon as they’ve come through the door? Take the other person into account before you launch into explaining your solution to the economic crisis.
- Take responsibility for understanding – If you don’t understand what someone has said, apologise for not getting it and ask them to explain it again (rather than blaming them for not explaining it properly). Check that you have been understood – if you haven’t, then apologise for not being clear enough and explain it again.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood – This is a bit of a hoary old chestnut, but none the less helpful for that. What’s it like when someone insists on thrusting their opinion down your throat? It’s likely to make you gag, so don’t do it to others.
- Saying the same thing louder is unlikely to aid understanding. This was the comedy hub for dozens of ‘Brits abroad’ sitcom based movies in the 70s – it wasn’t very funny then, and it still doesn’t work. If what you’re saying isnlt understood you need to find a new way of getting the point across.
- It’s OK for others to disagree – If someone disagrees with us we normally think that they don’t understand, then we think they’re stupid, then we think they’re evil. Actually, they probably just disagree – and that’s fine.
- Have periods of silence – Allow some space in your head, and some quietness in the world. Learn to be with others on companionable silence – at least once in a while.