Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Study Assist: Communication

We are constantly trying to influence someone about something. When we are attempting to influence, we need to be careful about the words we choose. Our listeners are only going to give us a short amount of time for us to make our point, so each word, each phrase, needs to bring our listener closer to our point of view.  Make a list of the words you normally when you talk about birth .  Are you choosing the BEST words out of those to make your point with the fewest words in the shortest amount of time?

Be sure your message is clear and easily understood. Some words give conflicting messages. The two I am thinking of now are “but” and “however”  They cause the listener to do a mental “double take.”  We immediately start to feel defensive and can’t help but stop listening long enough to wonder what’s next?  “But” and “however” immediately negate whatever preceded them. “I love you but…..”  “You did a good job but……” You probably did the best you could, however…”

I am immediately apprehensive when I hear a “but” or a “however.”  Those words cause a negative gut reaction and set the emotional stage for defense.  They also fail to accomplish the goal.  Feedback, correction, or suggestions are better dealt with after an “and” than a “but” or “however”.  You know it is true with your children; it is equally true for adult conversation.

To be effective communicators we need to ask ourselves, “what does the first part have to do with the second?”   While we correct our children because we love them,  that should be a given.  There is no reason to  remind the child we love them before we address behavior that needs changed.   We should never give our children the idea that our love for them is conditional.
When critiquing a student’s academic effort or an employee’s performance, there is no need to add a personal component to the issue.  Address the feedback as the separate issue that it is, and in a way that needs no attempt at or need for buffering.  

Try to eliminate “but” and “however” from your conversation altogether for just one day.  It is harder than you might think.  I have had to erase both of those words two or three times from this little post.

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