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Effective Communication - WHAT is it?

13th Oct 2020

Isn’t communication a funny old thing? Just when you think you’ve got every situation covered, someone moves the goal posts. Just when you think you think you’ve got a common understanding someone doesn’t live up to what is was you expected them of. The key word in there? Expected. When we feel our ‘expectation’ markers haven’t been met (I’m talking work and  personal life here) our immediate reaction is usually anger. But actually what happens first is disappointment. But we are inclined to ignore that feeling and go straight to the anger, then we start blaming and criticising – ‘why haven’t you done this…’ or ‘we decided this was how it was going to go’ or ‘you know how I feel when you do/don’t do this/that and yet you still do it’. Do you throw in some contempt in there while you are at it? An eye roll? A lip sneer? What about in the tone of your voice? I bet you do. This can make the other person feel a bit attacked, perhaps. Under pressure, certainly, to perform or conform. Or they might go the opposite way and think, something along the lines of, stuff you. But no matter the reaction what the situation is a disagreement, an argument that can easily escalate into an ongoing issue that never gets fixed. What is standing in the way of getting communication issues resolved? The need to be right. I am right, you are wrong. This makes you the victim and the other person the villain. Neither ‘labels’ are that pleasant nor (I’m sure) no one wants to be either.

What to do about it? To stop the escalation in its tracks and so if it happens again you can deal with it in a much more effective way. Et Voila! Effective Communication!

It’s a simple 4 steps (Dr Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap, 2009). Simple but not that easy.

  1. Notice. When someone does something or says something that triggers an emotional response in you, just notice it. This is interesting. This has really triggered me.
  2. Wonder. Ask yourself, I wonder what is in behind the anger I’m feeling. Is it frustration? Disappointment? And, why? Why do you feel that way? What is this about? If you can, write it down. What triggered you and your reaction?
  3. Breathe. Using your diaphragm breathe at least 3 deep breaths, doing this properly should take around 12 seconds. How do you feel now?
  4. Choose. Let it be or let it go. Letting it go means the issue is no longer an issue. The trigger may have been something else entirely unrelated (like lack of sleep. Hunger.) Something that you can usually just let go but for whatever reason this time, it had really annoyed you but after giving yourself some space to reconcile it within yourself, you have let it go. But If it’s something you still feel the need to resolve, have a conversation with the other person about but it’s not the right time, then let it be until you can have that conversation.

Supposing you’ve decided this needs to be sorted. Of course, there are techniques around this and it all depends on exactly who and what. But in general, to sort an issues you, and I mean YOU, not the other person has to do, is remove these 4 (what is it with 4??) things from your dialogue. Blame, criticism, defensiveness, contempt. (Dr John Gottman’s 4 horses of the apocalypse). Then have the conversation. From professional and personal experience, this takes practice and time so good luck!!  

Seriously, for more personalised advice and training on effective communication click here to have a (no obligation, of course) conversation. Book a Time

Or send me an email with what you want to achieve and I can outline what would work best for you in terms of effective, excellent, open and honest communication. miriam@sayitclearly.co.nz.

 

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