Back in my corporate years, I engaged in many forms of communication—delivering presentations, running meetings, developing proposals, sending updates and other business writing. At the time, I thought I was a competent communicator. Yet oftentimes, I became embroiled in conflicts and disagreements that went badly for me. Usually, I believed it was the other people who were in the wrong.
It wasn’t until I studied communication theory and power dynamics in my marriage and family therapy training, and subsequently served as a therapist, coach, and writer, that I realized how much of the success of our communication is driven by our own internal beliefs and intentions, which are often subconscious. I saw that the more we can manage our emotions, ego, and intentions, and gain awareness of exactly what we are trying to communicate, the stronger our relationships will be.
This increased awareness helps us build important bridges and positive relationships with the people who matter most to us, including our bosses, leaders, colleagues, friends and loved ones.
From my studies in psychotherapy and communication, there are three critical concepts that have helped me tremendously in forging stronger bonds.
Every word you communicate will either work to support your goals and engage effectively with your audience or do the opposite —put a wedge between you that prevents understanding and connection.
Your listener will be much more inclined to let in what you’re saying and consider your ideas and views if you speak from respect and compassion in your heart rather than judgment, disdain, and criticism.
To truly connect with your listener, you need to “meet them where they are.” It’s critical to know your audience before communicating and do your best to match their style, vocabulary, and cadence so they can feel heard and validated.
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