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Posts Tagged ‘good communication’

Good Communication Starts with You

You’re talking with someone. He asks a question demonstrating he didn’t understand or hear what you said. You let out an exasperated silent or audible sigh and say, “Like I just said…” Saying “like I just said” or “as I just explained” tells the person that you good communicationthink he’s stupid or doesn’t listen. Both might be true, but saying so won’t help your relationship.

I consider myself reasonably smart. And for the most part, I listen. If I ask a question about something you said, consider the possibility that your explanation wasn’t clear and find a way to rephrase what you said the first time. Resist the temptation to tell me and the people you work with that we’re stupid.

Letting people save face is an art that takes patience, good communication, and the desire to have good relationships.

Here are five good communication tips that will strengthen you relationships versus alienate you from others:

Good communication tip number one: Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume good. People are doing what they know to do.

Good communication tip number two: If someone doesn’t understand what you said, take responsibility for delivering unclear information. It’s easier to change your communication style than alter someone else’s style.

Good communication tip number three: Put your desire to have good business relationships above the desire to be right.

Good communication tip number four: Consider that you may not explain things in the way others learn. Vary your communication methods. Most people don’t learn solely by hearing. Make your explanations hands on and/or visual, and you’ll reach more people.

Good communication tip number five: Bring your patience to work.

It’s tempting to tell people where they’re lacking, but it won’t get you very far. Say what you need to in order to get your point across. And if people are unclear, know the easiest thing is to alter your message. Take the path of least resistance; let people save face.

good communication


Good Communication Starts with You

good communication

You’re talking with someone. He asks a question demonstrating he didn’t understand or hear what you said. You let out an exasperated silent or audible sigh and say, “Like I just said…” Saying “like I just said” or “as I just explained” tells the person that you think he’s stupid or doesn’t listen. Both might be true, but saying so won’t help your relationship.

I consider myself reasonably smart. And for the most part, I listen. If I ask a question about something you said, consider the possibility that your explanation wasn’t clear and find a way to rephrase what you said the first time. Resist the temptation to tell me and the people you work with that we’re stupid.

Letting people save face is an art that takes patience, good communication, and the desire to have good relationships.

Here are five good communication tips that will strengthen you relationships versus alienate you from others:

Good communication tip number one: Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume good. People are doing what they know to do.

Good communication tip number two: If someone doesn’t understand what you said, take responsibility for delivering unclear information. It’s easier to change your communication style than alter someone else’s style.

Good communication tip number three: Put your desire to have good business relationships above the desire to be right.

Good communication tip number four: Consider that you may not explain things in the way others learn. Vary your communication methods. Most people don’t learn solely by hearing. Make your explanations hands on and/or visual, and you’ll reach more people.

Good communication tip number five: Bring your patience to work.

It’s tempting to tell people where they’re lacking, but it won’t get you very far. Say what you need to in order to get your point across. And if people are unclear, know the easiest thing is to alter your message. Take the path of least resistance; let people save face.

good communication


Manage People Who Give You ‘The Tone’ – Tone of Voice Communication

You know when someone gives you ‘the tone’. Similar to when people roll their eyes at you, when you get ‘the tone’ you’re being told that the other person is exasperated.

tone of voiceTone of voice communication is one of the hardest things to coach because we don’t hear ourselves. People who give people ‘the tone’ rarely know they’re doing it. One of the best ways I know to effectively coach tone of voice is to ask tone givers to tape themselves during phone calls. Then listen to the recording together and ask the tone giver, “If your grandmother called and someone spoke to her that way, would you be happy?” You can also read written correspondence out loud, adding the tone you ‘heard’, and ask the sender how she would have interpreted the message.

When given the tone, most people feel judged. And when people feel judged, conversations are constrained.

The way to avoid giving ‘the tone’ is to come from a place of curiosity. When you ask the question, “What were you thinking when you approached the customer that way,” you can sound curious or judgmental. Being judgmental evokes defensiveness, which shuts conversations down. Being curious creates discussion.

Consider asking questions like these to invite discussion:

• Tell me more about…
• Help me understand what happened here…
• What are your thoughts about…
• What’s the history behind….
• Why do we do it this way?

Any of these questions will lead to good discussion, if you manage your tone.

If you want to get information or influence someone, ask questions and engage the person in a dialogue. We often try to persuade people by giving them information. This rarely works. Instead of over loading people with data, ask questions which evoke discussion. Through discussion you might get to a different place. And if not, you’ll at least have learned why the other person thinks as he does and you will have shared your point of view in a way that is inviting versus off putting.

It’s easy to give people ‘the tone’ when we’re tired and frustrated. Try to avoid difficult conversations when you’re tired or stressed. Wait to have important conversations until you know you can manage yourself and your tone.

How to Say Anything to Anyone


How to Get What You Want on Valentine’s Day and Every Day

A few years ago, the guy I was dating asked, “We don’t really need to do anything for Valentine’s Day do we?” I was taken aback by his question (which was really a statement) and replied, “No, we don’t.” But I didn’t mean it. And when he blew off the ‘holiday’ I was furious and let him know it. Instead of having dinner on Valentine’s Day, we had an ugly conversation and a lousy rest of the week. Asking for what I wanted upfront would have been much less painful.

Why is it so hard to ask for what we want, especially from the people who love us? Here’s how to get what you want on Valentine’s Day and every day:

We aren’t likely to get what we don’t ask for. The people in our lives can’t read our minds. They don’t know what we want. This is true at home and at work. If you want a report to look a certain way, sketch it out for your employees. If you want a meeting handled in a certain fashion, give detailed instructions. For the most part we expect things to go well and thus we delegate insufficiently at work and hope to be pleasantly surprised at home.

Specific Valentines Day Request

I hope the people who love you, know you well enough and are intuitive enough to give your heart what it wants on Valentine’s Day, and every day. But if they don’t, make it easy for them to please you by telling them what you want. For example, tell the person you love, “I’d love to spend Valentine’s Day together. I don’t care what we do, as long as we’re together.” Or, “I don’t care what you do for Valentine’s Day, but please do something to mark the day.” And if you want something specific, ask for it. “I’d love flowers on Valentine’s Day, despite that they’ll die and are impractical. Anything but roses and carnations would be lovely.”

Ask for what you want and see what happens.

Valentines Day Cards for Work


How to Respond to Negative Feedback

The normal, human response to negative feedback is to become defensive. Becoming defensive is a survival instinct, like hitting your breaks when the car in front of you stops short. It’s almost unavoidable.

The challenge with becoming defensive is that the person who risked telling you the truth (as she sees it) doesn’t want to deal with your defensiveness. Your defensiveness is . . . scary, intimidating, annoying – fill in the blank.

So what’s the right answer?

Here’s my recommendation on how to respond to negative feedback:

When someone gives you feedback, listen. Listening doesn’t mean you do what the other person wants. Listening merely means take in the message. Hear what the other person has to say. And ask questions for greater understanding, if you can do so without being defensive. In my experience, asking questions, in the moment, without being defensive is VERY hard to do.

I got critiqued for admitting, in last week’s blog, that I broke one of my own rules by sending feedback via email. I study, teach and write about how to communicate well. And I’m human. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But when they do, I clean it up fast.

The last time I got feedback from a friend I got defensive. And during the conversation, right after I became defensive, I caught myself, apologized, and asked the person to tell me again. I said, “I’m sorry I got defensive. Tell me again and I’ll do a better job of listening.”

You won’t always communicate perfectly. It’s not possible. The key is to catch yourself quickly and clean up the messes you make. If you raise your voice, apologize. If you cry, remove yourself from the situation until you can speak calmly. If you push back and defend versus listen, own your behavior and do a better job of listening. You’ll earn respect by admitting when you fall short.

It’s easy to mistake listening to feedback and saying “Thank you for telling me that” as agreement. I’m not suggesting you agree or give in. When you’re calm and can interpret the feedback, without emotion, go back to the person to talk more. It’s ok to push back. It’s ok to say you disagree or that she is mistaken. But if you have this conversation when you receive the feedback, the other person will likely be so daunted by your reaction that she is not likely to give you feedback again, and that’s a loss for you.

So few people will risk being honest with you, make it easy on those who do.

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked for feedback on how he communicated. When I told him what I thought he responded with, “So, you’re telling me I did it all wrong.” Aka, he got defensive, so I back peddled. In that moment my brain got trained, this guy can’t take feedback. So the next time he asks me, I won’t give any.

It doesn’t take much to train people not to tell you the truth. One instance of defensiveness will do it. Don’t do that to yourself. You need the data. You don’t need to agree with what the person says or change your behavior, but you need to know what people think and say about your performance.

Let’s review how to respond to negative feedback:

  1. Ask for feedback.
  2. Listen.
  3. Don’t defend.
  4. Think about what the person said.
  5. Wait until you’re calm.
  6. When you can ask questions and discuss without being defensive, talk further.

Now that you know how to respond to negative feedback, use our Advancing Career Questions to get more feedback:


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