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Communicating Effectively

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Feb 17, 2004
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Empower Yourself: Communicate Effectively


We all want to get our way. It's human nature and it's inevitable. After all, who else is in your mind with the exact same perspective as you!? If you are older than 18, you probably realize that life is full of compromises and sometimes you don't get what you want. However, I think that effectively communicating will increase your chances of presenting yourself to your best advantage.

For example, have you ever fought about something that you'd assumed another person was thinking or feeling? Chances are you could have saved a lot of time and energy by simply asking some straight forward questions. You simply failed to communicate effectively! Therefore, you and another person argue and neither wins. Beep ... try again!

Long story short, I scoured the net to find, what I think, are some good tips for getting what you want. In the name of increased satisfaction, here are some simple communication techniques. And by the way, before you hit your husband with the frying pan, make sure that he was really insinuating that your thighs could use some toning up. If you were wrong, he gets a hug. If you were right, he gets a slug. LOL.

- Cali

[*]Statistics suggest that between 70-90% of what we communicate is nonverbal. It's not what you say, but how you say it that relates your true message. To get your message across nonverbally, it's important to maintain eye contact when listening and to vary the amount of eye contact when speaking. You should face the person being spoken with, nod every now and then to show understanding, and avoid fidgeting.

[*]Maintain an open posture and avoid crossing your arms and legs, as this communicates a lack of openness and rigidity. Above all else, never interrupt the person speaking. Extend the person some respect by allowing him or her the time to deliver the full message. Interrupting suggests that you've been spending more time thinking of responses than listening.

[*]Verbal communication accounts for about 25% of the message being sent. The most important aspect of verbal messaging is to ensure that what you express matches how you are expressing it. Telling someone you don't feel angry with clenched teeth and piercing eyes is inconsistent as is telling someone how much you love and appreciate him or her while yawning and staring at the television. Typically, how you say something relates your true feelings.

[*]When voicing your feelings, use "I feel" and not "you make me feel" statements as this sets up defensiveness in others. Take responsibility for your own feelings. If someone has done something that has hurt you, address the behaviors and not the person. For example, if you were hurt because your partner failed to do the dishes as promised, say "I feel hurt that you didn't wash the dishes" instead of "You are so insensitive and a jerk for not doing the dishes." Focus on the person's behavior; don't attack his or her character.

[*]When addressing how you feel and the behavior that caused it, finish up by stating the effect the behavior had on you and what you would like to see change as a result of your discussion. It's unfair to tell someone what was done wrong without indicating what action you would like to see in the future. For example, "I felt hurt when you didn't wash the dishes because I trusted your word. It's important to me that you do what you say you will do. Could you make sure they're done next time or perhaps you have another idea?" By expressing your feelings, outlining the behavior you would like changed, and suggesting some alternate behavior keeps the communication lines open. Attacking someone's actions or being often falls on deaf ears.

[*]Practice. Change yourself by changing the way you communicate rather than trying to change someone else (which is out of your control).

[*]Before entering potentially volatile discussions,it is beneficial to agree that both yourself and your partner will communicate in a kind, honest, constructive manner. (Hide the frying pan for now.)

[*]Often people can see anger but refuse to look at the real emotions which are hidden beneath it. For example, when my partner hurts me with something he says, my immediate response might be to lash out at him in anger rather than looking at the hurt which is there. Each person has a choice to either strike back verbally or to discuss the feelings of hurt, misunderstanding, etc.

[*]Make sure your timing is good. If the message is not received, there is no point in sending it. So choose your moment, and make sure you have undivided attention.

[*]Use empathy. Climb inside another’s world, in order to gain a feeling of what his/her world is like, and to look at the outer world through his/her perspective or frame of reference and, if possible communicate this understanding in a way that shows you have some understanding of their feelings and the experiences and behaviors to which these feelings relate.

[*]Use the frying pan in emergencies only. "That was for the thigh comment you ***@#)@@**!" ... jk