4 Tips for Effective Communication

Imagine that you’re on a picnic. I want you to think about where this picnic is held, what you brought your food in, what food you brought, and who is with you.

At my picnic, I have a rectangular dual-entry lid wicker basket lined with a red and white gingham cotton cloth. I get to enjoy a bottle of sparkling white cider in two plastic champagne flutes, an assortment of cheese, cured meats and strawberries. I’m accompanied by my boyfriend, and we are sitting on a picnic blanket that matches the basket lining on the grass in a public park. Chances are, your picnic was very different from mine. We all have different versions of how we see and understand things due to our own individual experiences. Which is why effective communication starts with understanding.

Think about the last time that you were communicating with someone and they had a visceral response to you. Maybe they snapped at you or maybe they remained silent. At this point, you’ve stopped engaging with the rational part of their brain and you’re now communicating with the “reptilian prehistoric brain” that is clued into fight, flight, or freeze. So how do we actively engage with the rational brain? We listen, and we adapt our communication.

You can do the same with these 4 helpful tips:

1. Understand the other person’s perspective
Start communicating to understand, not just to reply. If you are only waiting for a pause in the conversation to state your reply, you’re not actually listening. Active listening doesn’t mean that you have to have an answer to everything someone says. It means that you are trying to understand the context and are making connections.

2. Respecting their model of the world
Our picnics weren’t the same because we have different experiences and have individual lives. Just because I have a different idea for my picnic does not mean your idea is wrong. Not everyone is going to see things the same way. By understanding the other person’s view point, you’re learning the context of their responses.

3. Listening and Asking vs Mind Reading
Instead of assuming that you know what someone is thinking or what they are going to say, ask them for clarification. They will appreciate that you are trying to see the bigger picture and are putting in the effort to understand them.

4. It’s a Skill, so Practise!
Practise and improve your communication skills whenever possible. No one becomes an expert overnight. Even after you think you’ve mastered communication, keep on practising. It will help you better yourselves personally and in the workplace.

Empathy goes a long way in effective communication. If we didn’t get the desired result while communicating we should play the “hero” instead of the “victim”. Instead of wondering why someone didn’t respond the way we expected of them we should try harder to understand their view point. Find out their view point, respect it and keep practising. Which skill are you going to try first?

Contributed by Tiffany Kwong  www.thepickyprincess.ca