If you are submersed in the self-development world you know how important building a new skill is. If you tend to over achieve, you currently have a list (mine topping 100) skills you wish to acquire within the next 5-10 years. This is because we strive to do better. No matter your position in life, growth is an important part of the human experience. Personal growth and development is second, only to spiritual growth. When we develop ourselves, we are constructing new and better ways to operate and play this game of life. This is not something narcissistic or selfish in fact, something quite the opposite. Self development and strategy creation, at it’s core, enables you to construct a life that is purpose driven, clearly charted, and geared towards positively influencing others. You see, when you dig deep you find that when you better yourself you impact the lives of others in a positive way. How? Because we strive to better our lives in positive ways. This causes a ripple effect that benefits all that we come into contact with. Some call it, The Midas Touch.
Communication & Embedded Communication Hints
Communicating is a process of giving and taking. The art of having a good conversation is rooted in a good listening skills – wait, great listening skills. In order to establish report and empathy for the other person, you have to understand exactly what they are saying. By listening to what they are speaking simply isn’t enough. We need to focus in on what they are implying based on the following list of conversational speak implications:
- Tone of voice on a single word or phrase
- Tonal inflection during a story or analogy
- Where emphasis is placed
- Emotional implications
- The core root of the story that is told
- Facial expression when something is emphasized
- Body moments, especially: Shoulders, eye moments, and lack/heightened body control
These are just a few things to watch for when you are listening to someone. In most cases, individuals that you are listening to will drop “hidden” hints within their communication that we miss due to our lack of focus. In order to discover these hints, we need to slow down our inner thinking and focus in the moment as to what they are trying to communicate. For what they are trying to communicate can often differ from what they are saying — sometimes drastically.
So make this a game; listen intently the next time you are having a conversation with someone and try to decode what they are trying to communicate. Even if it is a brief encounter at a gas station or coffee shop, take that time to be completely present and focused honing in on the subtle, seemingly insignificant, suggestions that are embedded within their communication.
Opening up to someone only happens if the other person is a good listener. The listener needs to appear as though they are genuinely interested in what is being said. The best way to do this is to be, you guessed it, genuinely interested in what they have to say. If you follow the instructions above, you will start to notice that people will naturally open up to you. You will start to respond to their implications, not what they speaking auditorialy. You would say, “Oh, I see you are saying this and you mean that because of the emphasis placed on that emotional implication. Therefore, blah blah blah…” You would speak to them in context of where the conversation is, but taking the time to embed your own implications that coincide with their implications. Basically, you are speaking to them without words. If you are just waiting for the other person to stop so that you can speak your mind, you’re not a good listener, you’re certainly not a good communicator. In fact, what you are doing is implying that all you care about is your own opinion and not what they have to say. One final suggestion during this process: Allow for there to be a slight pause before you start to speak after they have finished their talking. This will allow the other person to notice your self control, allow time for you to collect a solid rebuttal, and suggest that you weren’t just waiting to talk and that you were intently listening to what they were saying.
Tips from an Expert
Here are some outstanding tips from author and speaker, Marilyn Ellis:
1. Attitude Adjustment: Be willing to change the way you think. Instead of considering a conversation to be a challenge to “persuade”, consider it a mutual journey. There are signs along the way and the postings will come naturally if you let them. Pay attention to the words that are used and don’t assume you understand their definition of a term. Words can be very personal and idiocentric and cultural and not mean what you think. Ask for clarity.
2. Noise Reduction: Quiet the noise in your head. Few of us actually listen with full participation. How many times have you simply waited for the other person to just stop talking so you could speak! Stop thinking and just listen, with full attention, no voices in your head. Notice the other persons body language, voice inflection, facial expressions as well as their word choices.
3. Reflect Back: When the other person has finished speaking, your reply should first and foremost be a ‘reflection” – that’s coach talk for repeating back to them what you thought you heard them say. It can be very surprising and humbling when you find out that you didn’t get what they just said. On the other hand, when you reach mutual agreement on what was actually said, everything changes.
4. Ego Removal: Let go of having to be right. There’s a business saying – “Do you want to fill your ego or your bank account?” The result is not that you are right, but that the problem for both parties is solved to mutual satisfaction. It might not be the solution you thought would be chosen, but it will be the solution that really works.
5. Make it a Win Win: Once the other person realizes that you actually heard what they said, they will most likely relax, share and trust you. That’s when true communication begins. That’s when the real conversations take place. That’s when problems get solutions and you have a chance to make your sale, prove your point and get what you want. When its a win win situation, there is potential for a deeper, more worthwhile and profitable relationship with your communication partner.
Listening skills helps you learn exactly what others are saying and aids you to approach them easier. By listening well, you can tackle the listening barriers and encourage effective communication through your own personal mediums of expression. So, remember to stop waiting to talk, pay detailed attention to others, and to leave a slight pause before speaking after them. Do you hear what I am saying?