“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
Effective communication requires effective listening. You can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately for most of us, active listening skills don’t come naturally.
If you are like me, you like to be understood. You like it when people hear and understand your perspective on things. And you probably will find yourself defending your point of view when people challenge your position on important topics.
We are all accustomed to one-way communication where our objective is to be understood by those we are talking to. The problem with one-way communication is that there is typically no room for dialogue. It’s just two people talking at each other rather than to each other.
You see this play out in relationships and home and at work a lot. People can get caught up talking at each other, and it usually causes friction in the relationship. Usually both parties walk away from the conversation frustrated and are not as willing to engage in future conversations. After all…what’s the point! They won’t listen anyway!
TRY TO UNDERSTAND FIRST
As we work on our communication skills, it is important to realize that the failure to understand will result in a failure to be understood.
If we put more attention on what the person is trying to tell us, they will also be more inclined to hear our perspective as well. You will also discover that you will be able to unpack more of their thoughts and feelings when they know you truly care about what they have to say.
Remember what Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Using these simple tools for effective communication will help you draw out the hidden thoughts and feelings of those you communicate with.
- Questioning. Asking open-ended questions can be a powerful way to help the person you are talking to unpack more of their thoughts and feelings. You will be amazing with how effective a simple question can be in helping a person articulate how they really feel. Asking questions also communicates genuine interest in what they have to say, rather than being focused on what you want to say to the person.
- Encouraging. Sometimes people need to know that it’s safe to share how they really feel. Encouraging someone to be honest and open reiterates your genuine concern and interest in what they have to say.
- Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing their statements is a great way to make sure you are hearing their intended message rather than your interpreted message. Paraphrasing requires you to use their words and phrases as you recap what they just said. This allows them to clarify themselves if necessary and keeps both of you on the same page.
- Reflection of feeling. Reflecting the feeling of someone is a wonderful tool to engage and connect with someone. Imagine if someone just got bad news about a loved one and they are grieving. Acknowledging their feeling, and being present with their feeling at the time allows them to know you really care. Think of a time where you were extremely excited about something and you wanted to share it with someone, but they seemed uninterested. Didn’t it make you feel disconnected from that person? Reflecting the persons feelings, whether they are happy or sad, will allow you to engage in an effective way.
- Summarize. At the conclusion of your conversation it’s always a great idea summarize what you believe was said. Much like paraphrasing during the conversation, summarizing allows you to share what you understood, and for them to give you more clarity in case you misunderstood something.
VISIT www.freddiescott.org to connect with Freddie and find out more about his work in the community.
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