Monday, March 18, 2013

4 Steps to Effective Communication

Communication is a powerful force. It can make or break a relationship, start or end wars, get a person hired or fired and finally, it can elevate or depress moods. Either of those examples can create a lasting pattern of behavior.

We all have our own styles of communication. I can't think of any period in time where I've run into anyone who reacts to a situation in a similar fashion. We can detect similarities along gender lines (you know, women are chatty, men are - well, I've yet to figure that out). Then there are those found along generational lines (teens and the elderly as examples). Lets not forget familial standards passed along from the adults to the children - especially boys. They tend to adopt all of their fathers' communication styles and for now, that will stand as a fact and not a stereotype.

But try as those experts could, it is nearly impossible to enforce certain communication protocols that are expected to develop an open and stress-free climate. I'm probably not alone when I confess that those communication lessons you find in the literature fail to work in practice. We're humans. We have good days and bad, most of the time at various intervals of the day or week.

The bottom line is this: we need to get along to get things done, whether we're focusing on eating dinner, meeting market expectations, or just standing in line to pay for lunch at the company cafeteria. Effective communication makes it that much easier to accomplish any of these goals. The question is, how do we communicate across generational, familial, gender lines? Here's a few guidelines:

1- Teach rather than scold. Leave the dismissive chastising at the door. Especially when speaking to coworkers and including your children. I'm still working on the children, but my coworkers? I've got that down pack

2- Respect people's opinions and choices Even if you disagree, just make respect a priority and not a condition. If disagreement arises, simply state your opinion and move on.

3- Refrain from turning outcomes in your favor. General rule is: courtesy has a boomerang affect. Honor reasonable requests, don't talk down to anyone and leave the victim hood at the door. It's counterproductive to attaining effective communication.

4- Allow me to adopt the chorus from Pink's new song: 'Try, try, try'. We all screw up. Make amends when you can, give each other a break when warranted, and then try to overcome that communication barrier one more time.

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