Wednesday, August 5, 2009

9 Tips To Be A Better Communicator

Author Eli Davidson wrote an article about "9 Tips To Be A Better Communicator":


1. Don't Let The Words Distract You

Numerous studies show that less than half of what is communicated is through spoken words. Some studies give words even less weight on the communication scale. Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. conducted some of the most influential studies on the importance for the nonverbal components of communication. His landmark report rated 7% importance for words, 38% for tone and 55% for and body language for their effectiveness. Whether you dispute or agree with his percentages, they illustrate that you miss a great deal of content if you listen to words alone.

HOW someone says something is far more important than WHAT they say. Listen for infections, signs and coughs. These are unconscious body signals that 'highlight' a statement. They tell you that what was just said was important. For example if someone says, "I love working on that project." and then coughs or sighs it is likely that there is a part of them that doesn't believe the statement.

2. Oh, What A Difference A But Makes

Become a "but" watcher and you'll be dazzled at how much better your perception becomes. Pay attention to the word "but" in any sentence. It tells you, the listener, that everything said before the "but" might not be the truth. "I love my new position, but the hours drive me insane." The bigger truth in that sentence is that the speaker is drowning under their workload.

3. Don't Skip The End

Pay particular attention to what someone says at the end of a sentence. "I'd like to put together a presentation, except I don't know how." Often people make a preamble of what they think the listener would like you hear. Many save the most honest part of a statement for the end of a sentence.

4. Ask Is Not A Four Letter Word

Just because you speak the same language...don't assume you understand another person. The message sent is often not the message received. Masterful listeners ask, ask, ask. Any sales executive knows that the person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation. An easy way to become an expert listener is to verify that your perception of what was said was what the speaker meant.

5. The "Should, Can't, Have To" Crystal Ball.

Each one of these words conveys a negative belief or perceived assessment of a situation. Watch the statement that follows "Should", "Can't, and "Have To." The listener is telling you that they really don't want to do what they are saying. Watch these words closely and folks around you will think you are plugged into the psychic hot line.

6. Yes, No...No Way

If you are asking a "Yes, No" question you are not giving your listener the room to communicate with depth. Why bother interacting if you don't want real information? We have gotten into the habit of speaking in sound bites. Power up your listening by adding more open-ended questions. (Questions that require something other than a yes or no answer.)

7. Men Lay The Bricks and Women Toss The Salad

Do you feel misunderstood by the opposite sex? One of the reasons that we drive each other bonkers is that we expect that other gender to communicate the way we do. They don't. The Today Show just asked me to share some tips on the difference in male/female communication. Men tend to speak in succinct logical progression. Women mix it up. Here's an easy visual for gender communication styles.

8. Don't Throw A Brick In The Salad

Interrupting a speaker is a key signpost of lousy listening. Wait least four seconds after the person finishes speaking before you respond. This will help train you not to cut off the speaker until they are finished with an idea. Ladies, don't disturb a man laying bricks. Not interrupting men is key since they have a more linear communication style than women.

9. Don't Listen With Your Ears.

The University of Santa Monica has a revolutionary program of Spiritual Psychology. One of the skills they teach is Heart Centered Listening. Imagine that your heart had ears. If you listen with your heart you will hear the depth of the message any person is trying to convey.

So, close your mouth, open your heart and find out what that other astonishing human being has to share with you. It may surprise you.

7 comments:

Terri said...

Interrupting a speaker is a key signpost of lousy listening. Wait least four seconds after the person finishes speaking before you respond. This will help train you not to cut off the speaker until they are finished with an idea. Ladies, don't disturb a man laying bricks. Not interrupting men is key since they have a more linear communication style than women.

This has been bugging me a lot since I first read it, and I think I'm starting to put my finger on why.

I won't deny that not disturbing people is a nice, polite thing to do, and results in you hearing a lot more from them.

However, I've watched a lot of women quietly, politely, wait for their turn in a conversation... and be completely shut out as a result. They've even done studies showing that women tend to defer to men in conversation, sometimes to our detriment.

So if you want to be a better communicator, women especially need to learn when to interrupt and how to join the conversation. This tip seems really counterproductive to that.

Br3nda of coffee.geek.nz said...

I gotta agree with Terri - It sounds like you're advocating women shutup and not contribute in case a man wishes to speak. I don't think that's the message you wanted to convey.

It's also an absolute. I know I have a very linear mind, but I have no penis.

Terri said...

More things that bug me:

"Ladies, don't disturb a man laying bricks. Not interrupting men is key since they have a more linear communication style than women."

Every time I read that, I hear someone saying "ladies, shut the hell up and let the men finish talking."

And then, in case it wasn't insulting enough to the women, it's insulting the men too, implying something along the lines of "men are too dumb to keep their train of thought when interrupted."

I'm leery of communication tips from someone who communicates them in a way that can be seen as, well, offensive.

Valorie Zimmerman said...

Loved the essay, right up to #7, which led off with a rather offensive sterotype, and then.....oh, wait, have I waited a respectful interval before responding? Hope so, I wouldn't want to derail the fragile brain of the male(?) speaker.

Geez.

I guess I'll go clean my salad bowl -- just hate those brick chips in my salad.

Natalee said...

I personally don't appreciate the inclusion of some of these tips in your article. Some are gender-neutral. Some are objective enough for any audience to benefit from. Then I guess something was tossed into the mix (#7, #8) and my heart ears heard the depth of your message.

Gail Carmichael said...

I suppose it's worth pointing out that these tips were written elsewhere and just reposted here - I love seeing this sort of discussion going on, but maybe it would be worth the time to comment on the original story or write the author? I kind of doubt he'll see it here ;)

Gail Carmichael said...

Correction - seems to be written by a woman, so I doubt she'll see it here...