In a lecture a teacher tells you what is important for the next test. This song you heard this morning right before you got to class keeps playing in your head. You can't remember its name. Class is done. "Oh no!" You cry out. "What did the teacher say?" This example of internal noise is just one of the blocks and biases that myself and many others are guilty of every day. I will be analyzing myself and my own communication and listening style to find its strengths and weak-ness's. I will attempt to capture the most accurate picture of the representation of my communication weakness; and strength in attempt to improve on my natural abilities and broaden my communication style already established. Perhaps through all this you will see pieces of your own self and will be able to assimilate some of my own suggestions and ideas for your own betterment.
I have broken this up to make it easier to understand how I compared and contrasted my strong and weak points. Through reading you may be able to do this same process for yourself. In the first breakdown is my weakness's in communicating that I have identified. The second break down is my strengths in communicating in the ideal situation. This is the way I communicate now professionally. In the third break down I have put together the ideal traits that would help myself eliminate my own communication weak points. In the next breakdown you will find I have broken down a timeline of when to apply these communication gems. Than finally I will break down into five easy steps to remember this material so you may take it into the every day world.
The following are my perceived weakness's to my communication.
Communication Block and Biases
* Selective listening: Hearing what you want to hear.
* Noise: Internal(physiological like your very hungry or psychological like having a song playing in your head) or external noise is anything that distracts you or your speaker from the what is being said
* Fight and be right: Defensive excuses and arguments (some thing to keep in mind is men tend to use conversation as a competition. Where as women tend to use conversation to achieve community. Neither is exclusive to any gender)
* Make light of and run: Avoiding certain conversation with jokes, and than changing the subject and/or answering very vaguely.
* Fast wisdom: Offering help before you understand the problem
* Response rehearsal: Planning the answer before understanding the problem or question. Usually this is done while the speaker is still talking about the problem.
* Day dreaming: Being preoccupied with dreams, schemes, and/or memories. It could even be picturing what you have to do for the day.
Focusing now on the strengths of my communication in the ideal setting.
* Stop any other extraneous talking, Keep good eye contact, gain rapport (match and mirror breathing and gestures.)
* Watchful of eye accessing cues and nonverbal body language.
* Asking about anything in the nonverbal that is not congruent with the words. Be mindful of excitement and emphasis on words.
* Get the facts Where, When, How, from Who
* Asking myself does the speaker want to communicate? Does He/She want to be fixed, validated, comforted, or seek community/acceptance ?
Now that I have my ideal situation and my strengths of communication I will elaborate on them and fill in any missing pieces. As the missing pieces are filled in and the concepts are put together for me they will eliminate or diminish greatly all blocks and biases listed here for me. You may have a different list and different things to work on so our list may not be identical.
* Mind and environment should be quiet as possible with an absence or at least minimized distractions.
* Good eyes contact with attention to nonverbal cues to evaluate everything is congruent. Which includes listening to voice quality.( Such as tone, excitement, tempo, emphasis, volume)
* Empathize: Hear the story from the speakers point of view
* Always avoid hasty judgments and interruptions while always keep an open a positive attitude and a neutral perspective.
* Don't get side tracked by trigger words and hot buttons
* Listen for feelings as well as facts. Noting where and about what the speaker gets excited or emphasizes can reveal a good deal about the speaker and his position.
Applying these skills to every conversation can be tricky. So I will briefly reiterate giving you and overview of how you might apply it in real life.
During the conversation you should:
* Ask questions during the speaker's story when you need to clarify something or you miss a point.
* Ask a question if your speaker needs help to continue.
* Repeat and rephrase key points to ensure understanding. Paraphrase the facts (message). Restate the feelings (Meta message) and reflect the facts and feelings back in a concise paraphrase this last time to ensure comprehension of the speaker's concepts and points being expressed.
* Body language: Does the speaker have a open or closed posture? Does his verbal (words and vocal qualities) and nonverbal (gestures, expressions, posture) support or contradict his statements?
After the speaker finishes his story you should:
* After the speaker finishes his story ask open ended nondirective questions like How, Why, What? ( Example: What's the most important thing about what you do at work?)
* Than you can ask directive question like Who, when, and Where? These don't take much thought and are answered quickly. (Example: What is your favorite color?)
* Use negative inquiry to seek opinions or clarify points you may disagree on. This way very little negativity is directed or connected to you. (Example: What opinions would you say the teacher deems appropriate for this?)
* Take responsibility for your reactions.
* Focus on behavior not personality.
* Be specific when you propose views. Don't impose views. We are to be of an
* open mind, positive attitude toward the speaker, and a neutral perspective (non-judgmental)
* Be descriptive not prescriptive. Most people really have the answer within themselves just have wait till they realize it.
It comes down to five steps to remember to develop strong Communication.
1. Listen for the message (Facts spoken)
2. Look and listen for meta messages (feelings behind the words)
3. Question is the Meta messages congruent with the message?
4. Be descriptive in getting answers not prescriptive in offering advice.
5. Paraphrase and clarify to check your perceptions always.