Secrets to excellent communication

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Epictetus

We all have struggled with communication. In our friendships and family relationships, we try to influence others but fall short. It is important as we learn to communicate to understand what others hear when we speak.

Empathy

Starting with empathy we need to consider other’s viewpoints. We need to understand their position and their mindset. The mindset may affect how they will listen to what we are saying and the lens they view things.

Respect

We must have respect with those we communicate with. As well as respect the process of communication. When you value communication and work to increase your skills in communication you show it real respect.

Open Mind

Many ideas are dismissed immediately considering who is sharing them. It is better to suspend judgment as you listen to someone. Having to children I know this can be difficult.

Working with people day to day might get you to think, “Bob’s ideas are always ridiculous.” Try to look for one thing good in his idea he shares. This little mindset change can switch how we see people.

Storytelling

In Chip and Dan Heath’s best-selling book, Made to Stick, they point out the importance of telling a story. When we use a story we help make an idea stick.

They tell the story of Subway. Subway had an advertisement campaign that featured 6 subs under 7 grams of fat. That campaign never resonated. Then they told the story of Jared who lost 245 pounds eating subway sandwiches. This story took off! The story stuck where the facts of the other campaign never were remembered.

Feedback

Sharing feedback can be challenging if it is not positive. Occasionally as a manager, I have had to share negative feedback. It seems best to get it out right away. If you try to dance around it people can get frustrated.

This can help people who are interested in getting better take steps. If you get some feedback make sure to ask questions to ensure you understand what change is needed and expectations are clear.

Questions

Knowing when to ask a question is just as important as knowing when not to. Similar to a good comedian, timing is helpful with questions.

A good question also shows you are really listening. When I interview someone for a new book or a call I prepare a list of questions. Although depending on how things go I may improvise or stick with what I have.

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