When you speak – you want people to listen (especially our partners and children). Although most people think that if you yell, you will be heard. It’s quite the opposite. I have put together 5 effective communication strategies to help you succeed in the art of conversation and ensure that your message is well-received and understood.
1.Stay Calm and Be Positive
Use your words to help you, not sabotage you. If you communicate with anger and negativity, no one will listen. If you’ve got your back up, you need to address it – before you start talking. Take a timeout so you can calm down and see clearly. Often, when you wait it out, your perceptions will change and you can reclaim your perspective. Calm tells the other person that you want to address the issue as a win-win situation.
2.Choose Your Words Carefully
Before you speak, consider the words you choose. Never begin a conversation on the attack. If you start a sentence with You, Why or What, you may come across as accusatory and your conversation will be interpreted as ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. Try instead to start with “I” phrases that take ownership of your feelings such as, ‘I noticed that…, I appreciate it when you X, and when X happens, it…, I know it was with good intentions that…, , or, I love that you’….When you begin your sentences with feelings about the other person first, the other person is more likely to welcome being invited into the conversation and hear what you’re saying.
3. Watch Your Tone
Your tone sets the stage. The tone you take can make or break a conversation regardless of the words you use. Even the nicest of intentions can sound hurtful or accusatory, if you choose the wrong tone. How do you keep your tone on track? Keep calm and positive, but don’t forget to also be kind and firm. You can talk all you want, but if your tone is sending a different message, nothing you say will help you.
4. Consider Your Body Language
What is your body saying about your intent? If you want to be heard, not only do you have to watch what you say, but you also have to be mindful of what your body is saying as as well. Direct eye contact is key. Holding your phone, a pen, a food item? You won’t be taken seriously if you’re trying to convey a message while multitasking. Focus on one thing. If you want respect and validation, you also have to give it.
Get on-level too.
That means, if the other person is standing, you stand. If they’re sitting, you sit. Your goal is not only to create rapport and buy-in so your party listens, but also demonstrate that you are equals in the conversation.
Conversing with your children? Get down to their level. You don’t want to be over-bearing, a bully, or be a parent who imparts a dictatorship style of parenting. Fill their power buckets. Empower your children. That is, after all, your job.
5. Be Thankful
Giving thanks is an important step that many people forget. Let the other person know you appreciate them for not only taking the time to listen, but for hearing you and taking part in the conversation. Gratitude sets up a positive platform not just for the relationship and your expectations, but also for the next time you need to get something off your chest. All relationships hit bumps in the road and require continual communication to overcome barriers.
When you feel thankful, you allow the other person to feel thankful too, and that’s good insurance for the next time you need to have a conversation or chat with your child, or anyone for that matter.
Final thoughts: Listening and hearing are two different things. Hearing someone speak is not the same as listening to what they’re saying. Listen. Be an active participant. Lead by example.
In practice for over 12 years, Lauren Millman is a highly sought-after Toronto Marriage & Relationship Coach and Counsellor, Mental Health Practitioner and Parenting Specialist, and is a member of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation. Lauren is a regular guest contributor on TV’s Rogers Daytime! York Region, and The Mediation Station. She has also been a guest on SiriusXM Radio Canada. Lauren is an international best- selling author, writes regularly for several online publications including Brazenwoman, PinkandBlue North America, and SiriusXM Canada, and was recently featured in the Toronto Star. Lauren continuously gives back to the community. In 2014, Lauren was the Recipient of the International Women In Leadership Award.