I spruik myself as being the ‘communications queen’ given I have been observing, researching and practising communication techniques for many, many years. I have come to realise the culprit for most angst in life is communication; either the lack of it or the miscommunication of it.

Most people believe because they have two ears that hear and a mouth that speaks they are communicating!

Nope. Wrong!

They are hearing, as opposed to listening and simply spewing forth words as opposed to planned and purposeful words to create meaning within context. And just to make it more interesting, there is a further layer of complexity in terms of our own point of reference. That is, we determine meaning through our own experiences so words expressed in any context can have unintended consequences in a communication if we are not actively involved and conscious in the process.

There is a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. She says “no-one can make you feel inferior, without your consent.” This sums up beautifully I think, the point I am making. At any time in a communication we may push some button in others that clearly we have no idea may be pushed, which is what Eleanor is suggesting. The ‘pings’ of communication are really for us to learn from. So the message here is be mindful of the communication process and look for signs that your words may be pushing buttons in the other, and conversely recognise the signs in yourself, if at any time our own buttons are being pushed and learn to determine what that might be about.

1. Responses vs Reactions

The thing about ‘mastering’ the art and/or science of communication is as we are trying on various techniques to determine which are the best fit for us, our responses can sometimes come out as a little ‘immature.’ If we are trying to be assertive in communications, initially our responses may come across a little passive aggressive. This however is good. It is all in the learning process. A good strategy is to learn ‘responses’ that are planned and purposeful as opposed to ‘reactions’, which are immediate and usually driven by our buttons being pushed and feeling the need to be defensive (protecting our ego). How to do this?

2. Pause Button

Find a ‘pause’ button and learn to use it. For me, this is a learned response that goes ‘hmmmm, that is a really interesting perspective/response, I’m not sure how to respond to that, right now.’ And with that, I cock my head to the left and gently squint as if running the words through my brain trying to make meaning.

3. ‘I” Statements

Using ‘I’ statements as opposed to starting a sentence with ‘you’ is another good strategy worth learning and practising. So when something is said that kind of pushes your buttons an immediate reaction would be to fly back with a ‘you always accuse me of …’ When a sentence starts with you, you can feel the finger point, therefore making it very accusatory and none of us like to be accused of things. So, by starting with ‘I’ it softens the approach but insists the other person has to respond and deal with your feelings. For example, “I am very unhappy when you edit my work without consulting me. It makes me feel my work is not valued.”

4. Listen

The key to communication is learning to have your say respectfully. It is equally about learning to listen to others points of view respectfully. It is about finding common ground so everyone is a winner (this should not be confused with compromising your position)! It is about learning to ask questions of others in order to create greater meaning therefore reducing the opportunity for misunderstanding.

5. Seek Agreement

And last (and certainly not least) it is about seeking agreement, even if that agreement is simply about the content of the communication at hand. That is, ‘so, are we agreed that what needs to happen from here is …’

The moral to this story is that we cannot assume that the message we intend to send is actually the message that is received without actively ensuring this be the case. So stop spewing words and hearing and start talking and listening for meaning to occur between both and/or all parties.

Guaranteed, this will always provide a happy ending.

Check-out my SPELLS for Wellness page. This week’s spell is in the Intellectual (learning) dimension …

Happy Learning!

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