The Self-Awareness Guy

effective communication

5 Effective Communication Tips

5 Effective Communication Tips


People often ask me what’s the secret to effective communication.  There really are no hidden mysteries, just some basic things we can do to avoid the standard misunderstandings and glitches that occur in our workplaces.  Try these ideas and you’ll be on your way to communicating more effectively and getting more done with less effort.

  1. Think before you talk.
  2. Speak calmly or don’t speak at all.
  3. Listen more than you talk.
  4. Try not to react to what the other person is saying.
  5. Ask open-ended questions.

How many of these concepts do you practice on a regular basis?  Once you master these skills you’ll be on your way to enjoying communicating with others.  Effective communication is achievable, you just have to be conscious of what you’re doing to make it happen.

Cheers,

Guy



Communication and Relationships

Communication and Relationships


People often ask me what to do on a date or in a relationship when trying to start a conversation. Many of us learned how to communicate in our families and with friends so we may only know one style; our own. Learning a couple of basic skills can help us make the most of communicating with anyone. Try these ideas next time you are talking to a date or someone you are in a relationship with.

1. Listen actively.
2. Ask open ended questions.
3. Listen actively.
4. Did I mention listening actively?

One of the easiest ways to help a conversation get started and build is to listen and ask questions. To be an active listener try the following:

1. Look at the other person.
2. Really listen carefully and give all your attention to what the other person says rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
3. Nod or say uh-huh to indicate you are listening.

Open ended questions are formed by asking questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no. Ask “What did you think about that?” rather than “I bet your really thought that was horrible.” The open ended question will invite the other person to tell you more rather than answering yes or no.

Try these common sense ideas and you will be on your way to gaining a new understanding of other people. I wish you all the best as you begin mastering the art of communication.

Cheers,

Guy

How to Increase Self Awareness in Communication

How to Increase Self Awareness in Communication

Here’s how to increase self-awareness in communication:

  • Listen actively.

It’s that simple. The problem is that our culture teaches us to interrupt, interject, dispute, cajole, get angry, become defensive, fight back, and any number of things that absolutely do not improve communication. Active listening is an excellent tool used by self-aware people who understand that communicating with another person is not about imposing one’s will, it means learning about the other individual and gathering information. Here’s how you listen actively:

  • Try to communicate with people one on one or in small groups.
  • Communicate at times when everyone is able to participate fully.
  • Set aside a quiet place to talk about meaningful things.
  • Sit on the same level, not separated by a desk or other objects.
  • Make time to talk thoroughly, without interruptions.
  • Decide with the other person what the topic at hand is, both of you agree on what it is, no one imposes the topic.
  • Once the topic is decided, let the other person tell their story.
  • While the other person is talking, the only thing you should do is listen carefully to everything they have to say. Don’t think of how to rebut, or argue, or contradict, or direct the conversation. Just listen intently.
  • When the other person stops talking, and only then, ask any open-ended questions you might have and then let the other person talk again.
  • Repeat this whole process every time you talk with someone.

Active listening is the opposite of our standard way of communicating where we pile on each other and hope someone understands something. People who possess self-awareness are healthy and comfortable enough to give the other person the space to simply talk. This process will seem difficult at first but, over time, it will become your new way to communicate much more effectively.

Cheers,

Guy

8 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

8 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

Have you ever suffered through a long conversation where the other person spent the whole time talking at you? Our society conditions us to believe that we need to talk a lot and fill up all the free space in the universe with words in order to demonstrate competence or credibility. This encourages people to speak up first, continue speaking and then speak some more at the first sign of any lull. We end up enduring conversations that are complete traffic jams of people all trying to outdo each other with bigger and better stories and facts.

We’ve all interacted with people who seem to be in love with the sound of their voice and rarely let others into the conversation. There are many reasons for this type of behavior but the main one is that they aren’t aware of any other way of communicating. What they might not realize is that communication is over 90% non-verbal, which means that talking is just a small part of what we’re supposed to be doing.

Excellent communication begins with us. We each have the ability to either open the doors to a two-way exchange of information or slam them shut. We have a choice as to whether we spend our time spitting out our stories rather than gaining more insight into others’ experiences. Think about your own communication style: Do you talk more or do you listen more? What would happen if you shifted your style just slightly?

Highly effective communicators understand that getting their point across is often as much about understanding someone else’s perspective as it is putting one’s own input into the mix. Here are some tips to help you add to your communication skills:

1. Try to listen more than you talk.

2. Ask open-ended questions and give the other person time to answer.

3. Please stay away from questions that lead the conversation in a certain direction or only lead to a yes or no answer.

4. Try not to think of the next thing that you want to say.

5. Avoid thinking about the perfect rebuttal or your next magnificent story.

6. Allow people to say what they want and give them the space to do so.

7. Listen actively. Search online under “active listening.”

8. Did I mention listening?

We spend so much time talking that we ignore the most important element of communication. Listening opens up amazing new doors we never knew existed when we were flapping our gums. It’s incredible what we learn when we take the time to really listen to someone. Suddenly we understand people better and can make decisions based on rich, detailed information. We avoid misunderstandings and we connect with people on a deeper level. People also tend to trust us more because they can confide in us without being steamrollered.

In the end, it is up to us how we communicate. Excellent communicators understand the value of listening and use it to communicate more effectively. Listening improves our interactions and allows us to breathe. We don’t have to fill up every space and constantly think of witty things to say. We get to learn all kinds of interesting information about others and relax more. Try the ideas we’ve mentioned and continue adding to your excellent communication skills.

Cheers,

Guy

How to Talk about Charged Topics

How to Talk about Charged Topics

There's a frequently recited adage that you shouldn't talk about religion and politics in polite company, advice created by people who don't know how to talk about charged topics without getting angry or hurt. The key to effective communication is for the participants to have the self-awareness to realize that other people's ideas, beliefs, values and opinions aren't necessarily an attack on their own, just another perspective. Here are some ideas that will help you talk about difficult issues in your personal or professional life:

  • Go in with good intentions. Keep an open mind and engage in the conversation with the idea that you're going to learn something and that you'll do everything you can to make sure things go well.
  • Assume the other person isn't trying to hurt you. Interact based on the premise that you're having a positive two-way conversation, not that you're walking into a life-threatening ambush.
  • Listen to the other person. Don't talk, interrupt or give your opinion, just listen actively and learn about the other person's point of view whether you agree with it or not.
  • Practice self-awareness. Be aware of your own thoughts, feelings and actions and manage them so you don't get angry or defensive.
  • Stay calm. Communication doesn't have to be a contact sport, it can be calm and pleasant.
  • Resist the urge to fight back. Increase your chances of interacting positively by keeping yourself under control.
  • Avoid participating in an argument. Look at the conversation as an opportunity to learn about another perspective instead of creating conflict.
  • Realize the other person's point of view is just a point of view. No matter what someone says, it doesn't mean that you have to change your values or beliefs.
  • Know when to back off. Sometimes people aren't ready or able to talk about a certain topic. Let them know you're available to talk when they're ready.

Individuals who understand and master these skills are able to talk about any issue because their communication style shifts from confrontational to actively listening to what other people are saying. Virtually nothing someone else says merits an explosive reaction unless you decide it does. The key to effective communication is to move from reacting viscerally to consciously working on listening, learning and getting along with the other person. What will you do to behave positively when you talk about charged topics?

Cheers,

Guy