Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Choose Healthy Communication

It’s always your choice as to how you are going to interact with those around you. Your attitude going into a conversation with anyone whether they be a friend, spouse or co-worker greatly determines the outcome. If you go into a conversation expecting an issue, you will most likely find one. Conversely, if you go into a conversation with a positive mindset expecting an enjoyable conversation, you will most likely experience that as well.

There is a lot of focus today concerning emotional intelligence. It has become one of the deciding factors that job applicants are evaluated upon. Successful personal and professional interactions depend quite a lot on the emotional intelligence of the participants. Your ability to read other’s emotions and empathize helps the entire communication process. It is important to understand your emotional state as well. If you are angry about something, even something totally unrelated to the person or subject you’re going to discuss, you are not in a positive frame of mind for a conversation. Your emotional mindset will spill into the conversation, either verbally or non-verbally, which will likely ruin the exchange and possibly damage your relationship.

Even if you need to discuss something negative, such as an employee’s poor performance, you need make sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared. Person to person communication is too important to just wing it. You need to take time to consider what needs to be accomplished, what your emotional state is, as well as the likely emotional state of the other person. How are they likely to react and what will your response be (again, both verbal and non-verbal)? Taking a few minutes to prepare and think the conversation through can make the difference between and positive and a negative exchange. And if you are counseling someone on performance, you need to focus on the behavior and not criticize the person. You need to other party to understand that you are taking time to talk with them because you want then to succeed and grow. They need to know you care before they will begin to listen. Ask them to reiterate what you said. Feedback is the only way to know if you accurately communicated the issue; it is the responsibility of the sender (you) to make sure the receiver (they) heard and understood you correctly. Only after confirmation that your message was received correctly in its entirety can you then move on to discuss changes/solutions for the future.

And don’t think that proper communication is only reserved for the workplace. Emotional intelligence is just as important in personal relationships. You need check in with yourself when you get home before you walk into the house. Are you going to walk through the door with a smile or a scowl on your face? Trust me, the rest of your evening will likely be determined by the first few seconds with your loved ones. If there is something in your personal life, be it with a spouse or child, that you want to discuss, the same guidelines apply. You need to let them know you care, that you want to strengthen your relationship, and that you want to discuss something you feel is important. Again, the focus should be on their behavior or wording and how it made you feel. They need to know first and foremost you love them before they will be the right frame of mind place to listen and discuss.

It may sound cumbersome to stop and think before having a conversation but with a little practice it will become second nature and generally takes just a few seconds. But what a difference in your world and the world of those around you when you take those few seconds and chose to have both healthy and positive communication. 

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