How many times have you reacted in anger? How many times have you sat and judged or perceived someone in a certain way without having met them or knowing what their situation is? How many times do we actually listen to someone when they are talking to us? Do we hear them? How many times have you complained to someone about a friend or colleague or family member and yet you haven’t spoken to them personally regarding your problem or issue? Have you assumed that by the silence of a friend or colleague, you have done something wrong?
According to a quote by William Paisley “Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning, without it your relationship goes cold”. Isn’t that true? Without communication your relationship goes cold – and that is with anyone. Whether we are talking or writing via mail, letter, social media – we should keep the communication flame burning – and it should be a positive flame.
Before you speak to someone or want to bring up an issue, THINK first. Is what you are about to say to the other person true? Make sure it is not secondhand information you have heard (or hearsay). Check out your facts first (unless you know and are absolutely sure of your facts) before you approach the other person. If it is not true, this can result in an argument, the other person immediately becomes defensive and reactive no matter what you say after you have accused them or questioned them. And they will stop listening to you, they will be focusing on what you have accused them of or labelled them as.
When you approach the other person, are you doing this to be helpful? Or do you go in their guns blazing and ready for an argument? If you are going to be giving someone feedback, you need to ensure that it is helpful – that it will benefit the other party – this will depend on your tone and how you present your case to them. Remember to remain calm (no matter how angry or upset you are feeling inside) make sure you have thought about it first and about how you want to approach this person and are you prepared for the response? How would you respond? You want to ensure that you both walk away feeling good.
Are you in the habit of uplifting or inspiring someone? You should try it. And in the same way, when you are speaking to someone, make sure your message is an inspiring one – not one to break down, or belittle, or degrade. When you inspire you bring a smile to that person’s face and they will be more accommodating and willing to hear what you have to say.
Is what you have to say to this person really necessary? Is it beneficial to both parties if you speak to them about the problem? Is it going to solve matters going forward for both of you or your company? Sometimes, it is best not to say anything. If it means avoiding an argument or confrontation or making the person feel down and degraded or belittled, you will walk away feeling rather bad inside – you want that person to grow and believe in themselves. So if it is absolutely necessary to talk about an issue, do it in the right tone and in a calm way.
Make sure you are kind when speaking to someone. Kindness never killed anyone or ruined a relationship. Kindness goes a long way .
Dale Carnegie wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”.
When you are speaking to someone, make sure you listen to them too. Be interested in what they are saying and try to understand their approach – and don’t be tempted to interrupt. Your turn will come to give them your feedback after hearing them out. Don’t think about what you want to say either, listen intently and with earnest and after they have finished, give them your response.
If you have to apologize to them – do so. It doesn’t mean you were wrong and they were right. It means that you value your relationship with them – more than your ego. Even if you walk away feeling you have not won that argument – so what? There will be another time, another place, another way you can get your message across and both of you will walk away smiling.
Dale Carnegie also said, “Don’t criticise, condemn or complain”. And you know, this is so true. People who do this usually push others away. They are negative, nothing is ever right and someone else is always to blame except themselves. I personally avoid being with people who criticise, condemn or complain – it brings me down, it depresses me – and have you noticed, these people never smile? Such a pity.
Leo Rosten quoted, “Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood”.
This is so true. The only reason you are communicating is you want to share with others. And through sharing you want people to understand you, know who you are, know what you are all about. The same applies to the other person who is communicating with you.
And of course, the most important things to remember when communicating is to hear what isn’t being said. That’s right. The other person may not be talking to anyone, keeping to themselves, not answering you when you greet them – they could be engrossed in whatever they are doing or they just didn’t hear you. Or they could have had some problem at home before they left and it is worrying them or playing on their mind. There could be a million reasons why people don’t respond to you – just take the time to let it be for a while, and maybe at the right moment, approach them and see how they are doing. Don’t jump to conclusions and assume they don’t want to talk to you or they are angry at you – that in all probability is not the case.
And when you are listening to them with their complaint or issue – what are they really trying to get across to you in amongst all their talk? It is important to hear what they are saying and how they are saying it. Their body language could also tell a story. The fact that there is no eye contact could be they are embarrassed or lying or they are trying to put their message across in the best way possible. In most cases, there is more to the story than what we hear.
In all situations, show respect even to the people who don’t deserve it. Not because it is a reflection of their character, but because it is a reflection of yours. Respect is earned – it is not something just given or expected. And respect is earned by what you are projecting – what your brand is projecting – by your character – by the way you treat other people – consistently.
Go out there today and make someone’s day! It is worth it.