Communicating Effectively; Listen First, Talk Last
Date Posted: August 12, 2014
“No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
People don’t listen; they simply wait for their turn to speak. It’s a frustrating fact – and we all do it.
Most of us expect our messages to be understood exactly how we see them in our own minds. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. For example, your mother doesn’t get why you switched to ecigs (even though you’re well into your adult years). To her, they’re the same as traditional cigarettes and no matter how much you tell her that your e cig isn’t what she thinks, the lady won’t shut up. Guess what? She won’t accept your love for e cigarettes until the two of you have a productive conversation.
Effective communication doesn’t begin until each person feels heard and understood. Let it start with you. If you want someone to listen to you, let them feel heard, first.
- Satisfy the other person’s needs in the conversation before getting to yours – they’ll give you more attention later and you’ll earn their respect.
- Ask questions to show the other person that you’re being thoughtful and that you’re interested in what they have to say.
- Repeat what someone just told you, but in different words; they probably won’t even notice that you’ve just rephrased their own message. But they will feel understood.
- Take a few puffs from one of your electric cigarettes for a pick-me-up if you’re having trouble listening; no matter how eager you are to voice your opinion, the other person deserves your attention. And you can’t expect them to be receptive to your message if you haven’t done the same.
Once your conversation partner feels heard and understood, it will be easier for them to change gears and begin listening to you. The mother who can’t stand her adult offspring enjoying ecigs just needs some acknowledgement.
- Don’t keep repeating yourself if someone doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say; doing this will only frustrate you both, lessening your chances of having a productive exchange. Keep rephrasing your message until it gets received. Dumb it down if you have to.
- Make it brief; it may be easy for you to just blurt out words and hope people understand, but that’s not helpful for anyone else. Less words = less to translate = less to misunderstand.
- Choose your words carefully and pin down the most important pieces of information so you’re only sharing what you want to be heard. If you speak clearly, people will be more receptive to your message.
- Think before you speak; puff on one of your ecigs when it’s your turn to share. Since you can’t really talk with an e-cig in your mouth, you’ll have some extra time to ponder your next message.
General tips on communication:
- Don’t assume you know what someone is going to say. Doing so can easily cause misunderstandings and affect your ability to listen without judgment.
- Avoid blanket terms like “always” and “never,” which tend to initiate feelings of defensiveness.
- Be patient and wait for your turn to speak; interrupting someone makes it seem like you’re not listening.
- Practice your communication skills daily; remain conscious of how you’re reacting to others during conversations and alter your behavior as necessary.
- Note that effective communication is a skill that must be developed; don’t give up! Keep your ecigs close if you need to take a moment to yourself.
Use these tools when communicating with anyone; your family, romantic partners, kids, coworkers and boss – even the lady behind the counter at the coffee shop. Make them feel heard and they’ll be able to hear you.
How do you get others to listen to you?