Have you ever walked away from a conversation where you felt invisible or completely frustrated about not being heard? Have you ever wondered how effective are your communication strategies actually are?
Good or effective communication is a skill that can be constantly enhanced as we pass through life. The better we can master this skill the more likely it is that we will feel heard. Our level of communication mastery is never more evident than during confrontations or arguments. These are the times when we become either frozen in our retorts, stammering to get our point across, or worse, become loud and aggressive forcing the other person to become defensive, shut down and cease listening.
With this understanding of communication often being with too passive or too aggressive I have recently turned my attention to finding a middle ground in this process. The benefits of such a middle ground speak for itself:
- Good communication helps the individual get more of what they want more of the time.
- It aids us in stressful conversations by reducing the defensiveness of the other person.
- It’s contagious, making it a great foundation for negotiation.
With this in mind, I have found the following steps to offer a very helpful roadmap through which one can cash in on these benefits.
1. Be brief – Being brief and concise enables everyone to deal with the issue at hand without being distracted by any secondary issues.
2. Be positive – Set the problem in a positive solution oriented frame, noting what you would like to solve.
3. Define the problem – Let everybody involved know exactly what you are taking issue with.
4. Give a feeling statement – “I feel …………..” lets the other person know how the problem is affecting you.
5. Offer and understanding statement – Expressing understanding of the other person’s position, though you may not agree with it, shows the other person that you are willing to see things from their point of view and reduces defensiveness on their part.
6. Accept PARTIAL responsibility – It takes two to tango and acknowledging that you have played a role (even a small one) in the problem shows the other person that you are taking some of the responsibility for the issue.
7. Offer a solution – Again this speaks to the solution orientated nature of this approach. Telling someone that there is a problem without offering some sort of solution is a form of dumping. It dumps the problem on the other individual(s) without showing any buy in on your part. Offering a solution demonstrates to the other person that you are making an effort at resolving the issue.
So I would invite those interested to try out this approach. It has application at home with family, in work with colleagues (both junior and senior) and when dealing with troublesome customer care reps. As the approach has a number of parts it may be helpful to type it into your phone or to write it down on a piece of paper for your wallet. This enables you to have it on your person for quick reference when a problem starts to arise.
As always, we’d love to hear how you get on with it.