Positive relationships can mean the difference between success or failure in our business, family and personal life. And, communication is the key to these relationships. The more effectively we communicate with others, the more satisfying and successful our relationships will be. Here are 10 steps that can help you right now:
Communicate Often – People often want to wait to talk about things. Some want to wait until things are perfect, until they are “totally in love” before they want to really communicate from the heart. Others try to ignore issues by putting off important communication until things are hopelessly beyond repair. Remember the old saying, “if you wait until all the lights are on green before you head for town, you will never get there.” Communication, after all, is just talking about what is going on. Do it early and often.
Listen – Your communication will be much more effective if you understand the other person’s point of view. Restate their position so that they know that you understand. Then, perhaps they will listen to you as well.
Translate – We all come from different backgrounds, families, and traditions. A word or phrase can have totally different connotations to different people. Expectations vary based on our experience. Your job is to translate what you are saying so that it can be easily understood by the other person. Make sure your expectations are clear to avoid misunderstandings.
Focus On Common Goals – Whether in business or family life, common goals and objectives cement relationships. Maintaining this focus on common goals, beliefs, and values, helps bring people together as team members working for a common cause.
Praise and Compliment – We all have things we do right and we all make mistakes. Try to emphasize the positive in your communication with others. Look for things that the other person does right. Negative or corrective messages, although sometimes necessary, are much easier to accept (and learn from) when peppered with healthy doses of honest praise and sincere appreciation.
Stick to the Issue – When disagreements happen, stick to the issue at hand. Never make it personal or bring up past grievances to make your point. If things get heated, agree to cool off and think things over for a few minutes and then come back together for more communication.
Be Respectful and Kind – Respect each other’s views and opinions. Make kindness the hallmark of your communication. One of the worst mistakes people make is to justify cutting remarks saying, “I’m just being honest.” Wrong! You are being unkind. Using tact and good judgment, you can be both honest and kind in your communication. Respect also means you never say anything about someone else when they are not there, that you would not be comfortable saying in their presence.
Forgive One Another – We have become a society that looks for reasons to be offended. We sue companies because the coffee was “too hot” or a careless word was “racially bigoted” or an employee ignored our needs. The media is full of people who choose to be offended by the slightest misspoken word or mistake. This culture of offense has invaded our personal and business communications as well. We all make mistakes and we need to forgive each other if we have any hope of communicating positively.
Remember – Why did you choose this friend or hire this person or get married or connect with this person in the first place? Remember the reasons and feelings that brought you together. Remember the good things he or she has done. So many people choose to throw away a great relationship because they focus on a few minor inconveniences and forget the big picture, only to realize too late that they have lost everything.
Communicate About Communication – Talk about ways to improve your mutual communication skills. Schedule times to talk about important or difficult issues. Review these steps together and create an atmosphere of positive, effective communication.