Review of the first six tips on effective communication

Communicate-1We have now worked through half of the “Twelve Tips for Effective Communication” series! Because of last year’s extensive work demands, it has taken us some time to get to this point. So, before delving into the next communication tip, I thought it would be good to review the key points we have discussed to this point. 

In my earlier blog posts we have worked through six tips. Here is a summary of the discussions so far.

Tip One: Have a clear goal in mind for your communication 

Tip One focused on setting a goal for your communication. I suggested that you ask yourself questions such as:

  • WCommunicate-2hat is the reason for your communication?
  • Do you hope to surface and resolve an issue that is of concern to you?
  • Do you want to build a relationship with the person?
  • Do you hope to repair an injured relationship?
  • Are you seeking a favor?

I explained that the approach and content of your communication may vary radically depending on the goal of the communication, so it is important to have a clear understanding in your own mind about what you hope to achieve in the dialogue.

Tip Two: Have anoutcome in mind and a plan to get there.

Once we have a clear goal in mind for our communication, in Tip Two, I discussed the importance of planning your communication to be as effective as possible.  I discussed five key factors that, among others, are often important key elements to effectively planning a communication. These were:

    1. Knowing who needs to participate and why.
    2. Understanding the issue and framing it in a relatable way.
    3. Knowing yourself and the needs and concerns you seek to address.
    4. Knowing the other participants and their needs, issues, and concerns.
    5. Having ideas for how to meet your needs while allowing the other participants to meet their needs.

Tip Three: Understand Interpersonal Styles.

The third communication tool I discussed was understanding the style of the person which whom you are communicating.  Several current and future postings are closely related to this overarching topic. Tip Three focused on gaining awareness the style with which the listener prefers to communication and to make decisions. I explained that each of us has deeply engrained preferences for word and metaphor choice, pace of communication, accompanying body language, non-verbal supplements to our communication. In Tip Three, we looked at problem solving or decision-making styles.  With the caveat noted that individuals are far too complex to be easily categorized in boxes and labels, I explained that some non-diagnostic indicators of a person’s communication preferences they can be very useful. I talked about some categories used by some instruments, that identify personal styles, such as “drivers,” “empaths,” “creators,” and “systemizers.” I explained that naturally, the lines between these simplistic labels can be blurred and people are far too complex to fit neatly into a single category every time.

I discussed the advantages of your own style and the style of another whom you seek to influence and ways to best work with your style to influence others working with their own style.

Tip Four: Listen Comprehensively – the Many Levels of Listening

Communicate-3In Tip Four, I discussed the many levels of listening and suggested that, rather than turning up the volume of speaking we turn up our listening sensitivity. I explained that listening involves more than just hearing. In that post, I focused on comprehensive listening: listening in the broadest and most powerful sense.  This concept expanding listening from one of simply hearing another, to one of receiving information from another in the broadest and more informing and enabling sense.  I discussed some of the components of “comprehensive listening.” Among the key components of comprehensive listening we will discuss here are listening for the speaker’s:

    • Verbal content and expressed needs;
    • Emotional content;
    • Non verbal content;
    • Style, and conscious and subconscious metaphor use; and
    • Barriers to trust and rapport and opportunities to bridge them through congruence.

Tip Five: Communication is Not Just Speaking

In Tip Five, I focused on another area of communication, which was a corollary to Tip Four.  I explained that just as we should listen for all sorts of information when we are involved in an important communication, we also have the opportunity to use an amazing variety of tools to enhance the effectiveness of our communication. This post focused on the subject of enhancing communication using verbal and non-verbal techniques to enhance our communications and offered only an overview of a number of skills that we will explore in Tips Seven through Twelve.  These included:

    • Proxemics, or understanding how our use of space and proximity to others affects how we come across.
    • Framing and the effective use of word choice, archetypes, and metaphors to connect with your listener.
    • Neural linguistic programming, or the awareness and use of extremely deep-rooted word choices and learning styles to create a link with the listener.
    • Haptics or the delicate art of using touch in appropriate situations.
    • Mirroring, matching, pacing and leading both verbally and non-verbally to create subconscious rapport
    • A variety of other tips to help build trust and rapport and make connecting and communicating with another easier.

In this post I also urged readers to try listening to and observing the communication styles and tools discussed so far when communicating with another in an important communication.

Tip Six: Study the underlying needs of the other person and their motivation for dialogue.

The blog discussion in Tip Six focused on the important and often-overlooked communication skill of seeking full understanding of what the other person needs (or perhaps should expect) out of their interaction with you.   Why should the other person want to help?  What do they gain from the interaction?  I suggested that when engaging in an important conversation, one might want to spend some time at the outset of the conversation to learn about the person and what they might need from you in return and I explained that when the needs of the other are considered, one can build an attitude of mutual trust, support and partnership. The relationships built during simple interactions often pay great dividends in later interactions, with the rapport and mutual understanding making it much easier to acquire support in subsequent interactions.

BJM  3/18/2013

About Bruce MacAllister

Bruce MacAllister is the founder and Executive Director of Business Excellence Solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry and Biology and a Juris Doctorate degree. He has over thirty years of experience working with people in conflict, and training and coaching people through conflict situations. He works nationally and internationally with a wide variety of clients, including national departments, research and development organizations, institutions of higher education, non-profits, and individual businesspeople. He has been an ombudsman, executive level manager, project and program manager, trainer, and attorney. Click the "About Us" page to see his full biography. (http://bizexteam.com/index.php/about-us/.)
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