Here’s my 5-step communication check up to get you started toward making some adjustments in how you relate to others. Take a minute and think about each one and assess how you are doing on each step.
1. Check Your Perception
Our need to be right can get us in to serious communication trouble. Stop believing that your perception is the right one. Take a minute to look at each situation from the other person’s perspective. When you do that, you keep the lines of communication open. Say something like “tell me your side of the story.”
2. Check your assumptions
We tend to assume people understand our undisclosed intentions behind our behavior and we assume we understand another person’s motives and intentions. Whew. That’s a lot of assuming. And, we are usually wrong. Don’t assume you are correctly interpreting the way someone assumes your intentions – positive or not. This one step alone can help you avoid a lot of potential conflicts.
3. Check your understanding.
In other words, seek first to understand before being understood. Though it’s tempting to want to tell your story first, it’s important to listen first. Seek to really understand the other’s point of view. Say things like “tell me more.” Make sure you understand by asking clarifying questions. And, then, you can can say what your point of view is.
4. Check your flexibility
Unhealthy communication often develops from limited options. Think about your own behavior and assess how flexible you really are. Work on creating options by looking at things from a different angle. The more options you have, the better communicator you will be.
One way to expand your flexibility skill is ask yourself these questions:
“What is the real issue or problem here?”
“What is triggering me to respond the way I am?”
“What are my options for making this go well?”
Then, keep an open mind and look at your options for how to best communicate what you want to say.
5. Check your attitude
The most effective communicators are positive, kind and respectful. Keep that in mind every time you communicate to anyone about anything.
Did you find any check-up areas you can improve on? Most of us could use a tune-up in most of these areas from time to time. Make a goal for yourself to work on just one area and make some small changes in how you communicate. And, when you do, you’ll see some big changes this year. I promise.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. Find more information on communication skills training for your work group on my website.