TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Good communicators are aware of their own ability to choose how they want to respond to another. They do not react to others, but act from within to express who they really are at the moment. Self-disclosure is their primary purpose for communicating. They know that their own thoughts, feelings and opinions are not controlled by someone else or by circumstances outside themselves. Therefore, they never blame others for their responses. They make “I statements,” e.g. “I think…,” “I choose…,” “I’d prefer…,” “I need (want)…,” or “I feel.”
WAIT AND INCORPORATE WHAT THE OTHER SAYS, rather than continuing with your own silent rehearsal of a reply or stream of thought triggered by the last sentence spoken. Most of us tend to ignore what others say and either override their talking with our own, or plan what we are going to say next. Don’t interrupt. Wait and take in what the other is saying before choosing how you want to respond. They may be agreeing with you!
FOCUS ON WHAT IS ACCURATE ABOUT WHAT THE OTHER IS SAYING. When we only focus on the disagreements or inaccuracies of what our communication partner is saying, we become confused, or respond to something entirely off the topic. If you have a question about what you hear, say, “I understand you to say… Is that accurate?”
DON’T CONTRADICT. What the other is saying is always valid for him/her. Others always have a different frame of reference than you. The primary purpose of communication is to mutually understand each other’s point of view. You may state your disagreement, but avoid the phrase, “Yes, but…” When you contradict another, you invite defensiveness or justification rather than clarification.
KEEP YOUR VOICE PITCH AND VOLUME AT A COMFORTABLE LEVEL. Screaming may help relieve you of anger, but it rarely invites others to listen to what you have to say. You generate more heat than light, and you invite others to defend themselves or tune you out. Take a deep breath then communicate thoughtfully and with no emotional charge.
PERSIST IN TRYING TO UNDERSTAND, AND THEN BE UNDERSTOOD. We often “go quiet” or leave the room when we feel frustrated, or want to use no response as a silent statement or communication weapon. If you both agree to a “cooling off period,” then you both may want to leave or become silent. Otherwise, stay with the process until you are both satisfied and feel understood.
MAKE SUMMARIZING STATEMENTS. Regularly take the time to summarize what you have heard, what you have said, and what you both have accomplished in the conversation. Be sure and include your own understanding of what the other has said.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Do you like what you are saying and how you are saying it? Are you responding in ways that accurately reflect your true thoughts and feelings? Listening to others is a critically important half of the communication process. By listening to yourself you might learn something about yourself as well as about the topic you are discussing.
Source: Dr. Patrick Williams, MCC, BCC