Work, school, responsibilities at home – we all tend to be quite busy. If being busy means we are being productive, that is a good thing. However, when we are busy we might not have a tendency to focus on some particularly important things. One of those things is the way in which we communicate.
Our ability to communicate effectively will surely improve our work life, our academic careers and our relationships. However, if we do not focus on becoming good communicators, there is no reason for us to have an expectation that we are going to improve our communication skills.
Many of us take communication, particularly in the form of speech, for granted. Because we can talk, we mistakenly believe that we necessarily know what to say. And, often, we simply speak spontaneously, without giving thought to the quality of our words and the effect they will have on others.
Hurried and harried as we are in our lives, many of us make remarks to others that, instead of lifting them up and motivating them, bring them down. This is no small thing. If we continuously, even in small ways, put people down when we speak with them, a couple of things might happen.
First, we may damage a person’s sense of self. Second, we might alienate that person from us. After all, who wants to speak with someone who frequently puts them down?
This does not mean there is no time for heartfelt constructive criticism. However, negative comments on people’s looks, ideas or ways of being, that flow from our own negative outlooks or our own low self-esteem, serve no useful purpose. They are merely projections of personal dissatisfaction.
What then is a good tip for improving communication in a personal context? When you have an ordinary conversation with someone, find something to complement them on. For example, if you like their shoes, tell them you like their shoes. If they said something smart or interesting, express your appreciation for their insightful remarks.
In other words, focus on people’s positive qualities. And, if you feel compelled to point out something negative to someone, first find something positive to say. Then and only then, offer some constructive criticism in a way that relates your own shortcomings in a similar area.
Be an uplifting and positive force when speaking with people. Anyone can make a negative remark. Be different. You will help them and yourself more than you might imagine.
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at CYInterview.com. For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.
You can reach me with your questions and comments at Jay@CYinterview.com Like today’s column? Check back frequently.