My Thinking Corner
MY THINKING CORNER aims to share positive thoughts to encourage, inspire and motivate us on our journey in life and towards personal achievement and success.
Every Tuesday, Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha hosts a weekly challenge to share snippets of positive thoughts. Please check out her blog and if you’d like to join in – see Jacqueline’s “Thinking Corner” (Tuesday Trickles) for further details.
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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
(George Bernard Shaw)
Today, my thoughts turn towards communication and how we, as purpose-driven believers and dream-achievers, can become more effective at communicating with others.
I believe communication is the life-blood of relationships. Customers and retailers, husbands and wives, parents and children, politicians and constituents, all rely on effective communication (the exchange of words and non-verbal clues), to make themselves understood.
Whether the relationships in our life flourish or die, depend upon our communication skills. Show me a relationship where the parties refuse to speak to, or trade insults with one another, and we can pretty much deduce that the said parties are in strife, or are indifferent to one another’s feelings. This type of behaviour amounts to dysfunctional communication. This type of behaviour undermines success.
So how can we improve our communication skills? The following are a few practical tips that I believe will enhance our ability to relate positively with others.
- Use your words to build—whether bridges, self-esteem, or understanding. Avoid the temptation to exchange insults or putdowns. You not only diminish the person at whom your barbs are aimed but you also diminish yourself.
Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble. (Yehuda Berg)
- Be engaged in the moment. Are you listening (both to what is said and what remains unsaid), or merely waiting for the other person to stop talking, so you can have your say? Worst still, do you interrupt someone speaking mid-flow?
- Don’t be habitually competitive. Avoid turning social exchanges into a “well, my circumstances trump yours!” scenario. (I’m sure many of you will know someone whose health issues are always worse than yours, or whose house/car/children are bigger or better than yours).
- Follow known etiquette in each communication context (e.g. observe personal boundaries when speaking face-to-face and don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS within email).
- Be aware that potentially negative signals sent (non-verbally) to your audience, may unintentionally contradict what you say. For example, I recently watched an episode of Come Dine with Me. One of the contestants kept smirking whilst eating a meal prepared by someone he saw as a potential rival. He had already discounted the other competitors.
Everyone around the table noticed it and asked whether he was enjoying his meal, to which he replied that he was. However, the host saw his behaviour as an unspoken and unfavourable comment on her food and, to me the onlooker, the smirks seemed to be a gamesmanship ploy, particularly as the host’s menu was similar to his own.
Again, let me remind you of Tip No. 1. Refrain from sending negative, non-verbal signals to others, as a deliberate put down.
- Make appropriate eye contact. Neither stare at someone so intently you make them feel uncomfortable, nor on the other hand, give the person with whom you are speaking, the impression that they’re not worthy of your time. Whilst conversing with others, avoid texting or staring at your phone, looking around at what others are doing, or continuing with your duties.
- Be concise in your verbal exchanges, thereby allowing your listener to engage with you in dialogue and ask for more info etc., if they are interested. However, don’t be curt whilst communicating with others. And please don’t commit the cardinal sin of going on and on and on, ad nauseam, because you happen to have a captive audience. In effect, you are saying to your listener(s): in future, avoid this person like the plague!
- Smile. You may give others the wrong impression if your face looks hard and unapproachable, or stern and unfriendly. Also, remember a smile makes your voice sound warm and helpful, when speaking on the telephone.
Finally, to my fellow believers, remember God requires us to season our speech with salt (Colossians 4:6) and to keep our lips from speaking with guile (1 Peter 3:10). Furthermore, no matter how articulate, or eloquent we might be, if our communication with others is not expressed with, or motivated by agapē love, then (according to 1 Corinthians 13:1), in the eyes of our Father God, our endeavours are the equivalent of loud, clashing symbols!
- Are you guilty of any communication blunders?
- If so, which of the above tips will you begin to put into practice this week?
Please share your response to this post in the comment box below. If you enjoyed reading, or considered the above tips to be useful, don’t hesitate to like and share this post with your social media contacts. My thanks in anticipation!
Thoughts are free from toll – William Camden