by stresswinner on January 27, 2010

Recent studies show that the most important thing to do before you communicate with anybody is   to know who you are talking to and be able to empathize wiuth that person. As Henry Ford said:””When I am ready to reason with a man  I spend one-third of my time thinking  about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds of my time thinking about him  and what he is going to say.”

“I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to shut up. “

Poor communication causes huge amounts of stress – families are miserable, marriages break up, doctors and hospitals get sued, companies go bankrupt and countries may go to war!
On the other hand, be a good communicator and you reduce stress all around. You’ll  feel confident asking for help, for  a favour, a date – or a raise!  At work, a problem boss or rude customers  become  interesting challenges not major stresses,  and you’ll be more effective in sales or management.  At home you’ll enjoy the happiness that comes from  greater intimacy with your spouse and a closer relationship with children.
Good communication also leads to better health, because people who can express painful feelings such as anger and sadness, who can show affection, give genuine praise and  generally get along with others seem to have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke.
There’s more to communication than just talking. Listening is the most underrated and maybe the most valuable of all communication skills – very often neglected by husbands (and parents of teens). Assertiveness techniques help you to ask for what you need, cope with criticism and  verbal abuse, and  find time for things you really enjoy  by allowing you to  say  NO to excessive demands – without feeling guilty!   Conflict Resolution techniques allow everyone to win without anybody  ending up resentful.
Here are a few general tips to improve communication:
* Try to understand people’s personality and communication style,  where they are  coming from and what they want.
Remember that men and women are different. Women usually want to have their concerns  heard, their feelings validated, and discuss things at length, whereas most men like to get right down to solving the problem.
* Ask ‘open ended’ questions.  If you say “Nice day, eh?” about the only answer is “Yes”, but  saying  “What do you think of this weather?”  starts a conversation.  Stuck for a topic?  Ask something personal , most people like talking about themselves.
* Use “I” more than “you”.   “I see that the house is untidy.” works better than  “You never help clean up.”
*  To avoid conflict when you think someone’s talking nonsense,  just say ‘You may be right about that”
* Periodically summarize how  you see the other person’s position or feelings.
* Rehearse what you’re  going to say in tricky situations, practise in front of a mirror or even write yourself  a script!
*  Body language is actually more important than what words you use.  Smile,  lean  slightly  forward to show interest and get on the same level, not  too far away or too close.  Don’t  pace up and down, fold your arms or tap your  fingers!  Make eye contact, but don’t stare right in people’s  eyes, focus on a  point between them.
Better communication skills will reduce stress and increase success in all areas of life, but to make them  work,  don’t forget that other stress management techniques are very important as well. These include:  developing solid self-esteem  (which helps in not taking things too personally), the ability to relax in difficult situations, a positive mental attitude, a sense of humor and a willingness to learn from mistakes and to change methods that are not working.
“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!” (Anon)

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