If you want to move up the ranks of masterful communication, you have to watch what you say to others. Not just in the showpieces of communication such as a presentation or a meeting, but in everyday interaction. Learn these 7 rules and you can quietly become a master of one-to-one communication.
1. Be Kind Whenever you engage with people, you always have two choices. You can communicate from a standpoint of love or from one of fear. When your communication is laced with sarcasm, blame, threat, anger, anxiety, worry, and control, you are communicating fear. When your communication is laced with respect, appreciation, acceptance, joy, delight, wonder, and acceptance, you are communicating love. If you don’t quite understand the difference, there is an easy way to communicate love not fear: always be kind.
2. Be Aware Of Your Effect On Others For many, communication is a battle that they have to win and words are their chief weapons of war. Harsh words can cut people deep and leave their scars for days if not years. That’s why the mark of the true communicator is to know what effect their words have on others and to adjust them accordingly.
3. Speak With Good Purpose Speaking with good purpose means conversing with others in a positive, constructive and enhancing way. Such communication leaves people feeling better than they did before even if the news is not wholly good. When we speak with good purpose, we think before we speak; we speak only if the intention is honest; and we speak to be helpful.
4. Don’t Assume You’ve Been Understood When master communicators speak and things go wrong, they don’t blame others for failing to understand them. They stop and re-think what they said and did, working out where their communication went wrong and why the other person failed to get the message. As Stephen Covey reminds us, “First, seek to be understood; then understand.”
5. Know When To Shut Up If you’ve ever attended a workplace meeting, you’ll know how hard it is to say nothing. Many people attend business meetings with the sole intention of talking, even if it isn’t relevant, or even if the point has already been made. Talking is a way to impress. As a result, many meetings waste time and are unproductive. The best communicators are those who are secure enough to admit when they have little to say or little to add. They know when to shut up.
6. Don’t Interrupt If you’ve ever eavesdropped on a conversation between two people, you’ll have noticed that, instead of there being a progression of ideas building one on top of the other, most people talk over one another. It resembles a contest more than a dialogue. It is rare to see people listening with openness and non-judgement until the other person has stopped speaking. And even rarer to hear people asking for clarification and help with understanding. But holding back while you listen to others is the mark of the real communications expert.
7. Don’t Gossip Gossip is a particularly pernicious form of communication. It is idle, often indulged in merely to pass the time, and serves no real purpose other than to make ourselves feel better at the expense of others. If you work with others who like to gossip, simply learn the trick of disengagement: don’t reply, don’t be drawn in, and never do it yourself.
Despite all the paraphernalia of modern communications, all communication comes down to just you, the other guy, and how he or she feels when you’re done. Practise these 7 rules, so simple, but so rare, and you can move into the ranks of the communication greats.