Although we have never had more methods by which to communicate with each other than ever before due to modern technology, i.e., blackberries, iphones, laptops, droids, etc, our ability to effectively communicate is not at such a great place these days. Listen to TV, talk radio and the media in general, when conflict – or a mere difference of opinion arises – effective communication goes out the window. People yell at each other, talk over each other, insult each other and nobody appears to be actively listening to each other. The only thing I ever hear communicated during these conflicts is anger and the fact that nobody is effectively communicating anything! Lack of effective communication usually plays a very big part for why conflicts never seem to get resolved.
The ability to effectively communicate is the linchpin for conflict resolution in our business and our relationships. Last week we discussed the importance of acknowledging a conflict exists, and now we will discuss what you need for effective communication to take place to begin to resolve the conflict.
1. Verbal communication – words have consequences so choose your words carefully. You can pretty much say anything to anybody if you choose your words wisely. The more emotionally heated the conflict, the more important it is to select non-inflammatory words – ones that do not push anyone’s “hot buttons”.
2. Non-verbal communication – perhaps even more important than the words we use to communicate our message is our nonverbal communication, i.e., body language, tone, attitude and overall demeanor when speaking. More than 50% of all communication takes place non-verbally so remember it is really important to be cognizant of how you deliver your message. We have all been involved in conflict with someone where we have said to ourselves “it is not what they said as much as how they said it.”
3. Actively listen – how many times have we been in an argument or heated discussion with our spouse, business partner, friend, etc, and we say to ourselves: “they are not listening to a word I am saying.” This happens when people are not actively listening to each other. Hearing what someone is saying is not the same as actively listening to them. During conflict, most people are not actively listening; rather they are listening with their own hidden agenda – often to find faults with the speaker’s argument or to just silently wait for them to finish speaking so you can finally say what you have to say. In order to actively listen we need to listen with an open mind and an open heart. Try not to interrupt and make every effort to honestly listen to their side of the conflict. Understanding one’s side of an issue doesn’t mean you agree with them, but it can become a starting point for compromise and negotiation.
The ability to effectively communicate is the single most important variable that dictates the overall quality of our lives – and without it, conflict in your business and marriage will never be resolved.
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