How to Improve Communication: Four Steps
This is a follow up to my recent post about the Livescience.com article, Clueless Guys Can’t Read Women. I promised more on the four steps to improving communication. With men and women. Coworkers. With everyone. My previous post is here.
1. Start with useful assumptions.
There are two kinds of assumptions you can make. Limiting and useful ones.
- Limiting assumptions are the ones that hold you back, tie you up, and trap you into self defeating and counterproductive behavior. Limiting assumptions are the ones you get to be right about, but there is no advantage gained.
- A useful assumption is something that gives you enough informed perspective that when you base your behavior on it, it takes you somewhere you want to go. You have to assume something. Whatever you assume, you will get to be right about it. So why not assume something useful instead of limiting?
2. Build trust.
Communication happens in a framework of trust. And trust is rarely given. More often, it has to be earned. We earn trust by meeting people where they are, taking an interest in what they mean by what they say, seeking to understand where they are coming from and where they are going, and speaking authentically along the way.
3. Resolve conflict creatively.
The basic rule of relationships whenever the potential for conflict or disagreement exists is that ‘Nobody cooperates with anybody who seems to be against them.’ In human relationships, it turns out that you’re either ‘with me or against me.’ It’s a binary mandate that happens at an emotional unconscious level, and for the emotional/unconsciously driven person, it must be obeyed. But you don’t have to respond in a binary manner, on or off, yes or no. Creative conflict is about exploring and creating options. The more options you can generate, the more likely you are to find one that’s satisfying to all parties concerned.
4. Use persuasion to win hearts, hands and minds.
Persuasion is the deliberate attempt to influence the attitude of others to bring about a desired result. It requires some insight into human thought, feeling and behavior. To be persuasive, you must understand the motivations, needs and beliefs of another person, and then speak to those needs and engage those motivations without threatening those beliefs. In this way, you enter into a zone of acceptance, where the walls come down and the information flows from low quality to high quality.
That’s how women and men can get a clue. Both in the office and in relationships. They may not be any better at reading each other, but they’ll certainly be more aware that there’s something worth reading, and have a shot at getting to it sooner.
I’d like to hear your reactions to these suggestions. Have they worked for you? Has something else worked for you to your improve communications with coworkers, family?