“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” —Tony Robbins
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Just because you are talking doesn’t mean you are communicating. Are your conversations one-sided? Are you listening with judgment? Are you so busy formulating a response that you miss the message? The point of communication is to try to create a shared perception of the world. Develop the habit of really engaging in conversation. Learn to show respect when communicating. And, recognize that, while there may be differing points of view, you can still communicate effectively.
Nelson Mandela said, “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger.” You and the other side will never get closer to the same understanding if you do not engage in good, two-way communication. It’s difficult to have a productive conversation that is confrontational, demeaning, or judgmental. To have constructive conversations, try asking questions that will draw on a positive memory or feeling; this deepens the sense of well-being and trust. When we feel at ease we are more likely to be open to having productive conversations. Interact directly whenever possible. Make others feel like they are part of the conversation and that their input is valued. In a successful conversation both parties walk away feeling that they have been heard and have a better understanding of where the other is coming from.
Bryant H. McGill believed, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Ask others for their perspectives or personal opinions; this shows you have respect for them and their input. Share the floor. Don’t act as if it’s your way or nothing. Be confident but not arrogant when you’re communicating. Learn to paint the big picture for others and help them to see how they fit in. Have enough respect to give credit where it is due. Only speak for yourself and remain genuine and receptive. Make it clear how much you care about the success of others and that you respect and value their opinions.
Harper Lee explained, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” If you want to really communicate you must acknowledge that there are differences in how any two people view reality and situations. Learn to focus on what others are saying at the moment without interrupting or passing judgment. Then, confirm your understanding and ask follow-up questions. Don’t dance around uncomfortable questions, answer first and then elaborate if necessary. This open give and take is what allows you to create a shared understanding of the situation.
Make the Effort
Truman Capote stated, “A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” In order to have good conversations you must learn to engage not lecture. You must show respect. And, you must recognize that there are two differing points of view involved in every conversation. We all find it difficult to communicate sometimes but, good conversations can happen if you are willing to make the effort.
© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.