Let your speech be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. ~ Colossians 4:6
Have you ever started an innocent conversation with someone only to have it disintegrate into anger or frustration? We sometimes try to pinpoint where it all went wrong; but a more useful starting point may be, “What can I do to prevent it?” Other than those lopsided encounters with someone who talks as if there’s no tomorrow, most conversations include a give and take in which we alternate roles of speaker and listener. Following are “ground rules” that can be helpful in any interaction. The focus here is on the speaker role and, in particular, those talks in which you need to address an area of conflict, a sensitive topic, or something that bothers you. By “speaker role” I mean times when you have a complaint against someone as opposed to those situations when someone’s pointing out a problem he has with you.
Is this really an issue?
It’s amazingly easy to get caught up in drama. Before you go charging into a fray, ask yourself, “Is this important, or am I making a big deal out of nothing?” It’s so tempting to convince ourselves that we’re dealing with a real problem. Put it on hold for a day or two before addressing the issue. Allowing your emotions to take over is counter-productive; approach the situation as calmly as possible. By taking a long deep breath you enable yourself to be objective.
Resolve to be respectful with the other person. In order for you to be effective it will help a great deal if you aren’t critical. Being negative or condescending will alienate others and make it difficult for them to listen to your perspective. Rather than point out how he’s wrong, focus instead on a goal. It’s easy for a person to feel defensive. If he does, let him know that you simply want a new outcome.
Being direct is probably the most difficult of all these guidelines. Too often we tiptoe around an issue and don’t say exactly what we mean. This doesn’t mean you should “just be honest.” We sometimes use honesty as an excuse to be mean. At the same time it’s important that you get to the point. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that being direct is offensive; it isn’t, if your intention is one of compassion and respect. A great way to be direct is to take responsibility for your choices and thoughts. Rather than saying, “I don’t think what you’re doing is right,” say, “I want you to stop what you’ve been doing.” In the first statement you place the responsibility on morality – right and wrong; in the second statement you take the responsibility yourself – “This is what I want.”
You can get off track in thousands of ways. Regardless what the other person says, remember the reason you brought up the discussion; return to the topic anytime either of you veers off course. If the other person makes some kind of counter-argument, acknowledge it when true; but return to your original issue. Don’t get caught up with tangential problems.
Be willing to listen.
Finally, sometimes it’s important to change to the listener role. Learn how to ask questions, see the other person’s point of view, and create a connection. Make connection your primary goal rather than resolution – communication first, solution later. Your efforts to become a better speaker and listener can create the foundation necessary for problem solving and result in deeper, richer relationships.
Please see my article on listening Effective Communication & Listening.
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Effective Communication – Speak Respectfully & Directly – Article © 2009
Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. ~ Rumi
Be clear in speech. Clear speech and sincere listening are as essential to one another as giving is to receiving; without one the circuit is broken and what remains is potential rather than realization. Together they lead to connection and understanding. Don’t assume that you are misunderstood because of other people’s shortcomings. Instead, make yourself a model of conscious listening. The result will be clarity of speech, which is truth.
Be clear in thought. Lack of clear thought feeds unconscious fears and leads to darkness. Guard your thoughts well and practice quieting your mind. A quiet mind is a focused mind. You can achieve this by immersing yourself in those things which deeply engage your mind, your heart and your physical being. They include creativity, love, beauty, prayer, gratitude, contemplation and physical and spiritual activity. Your thoughts, conscious and unconscious, are your tools of manifestation. Clarity of thought leads to fearlessness and wisdom.
Be clear in your heart. Your ego suggests you’re awesome or pathetic but it’s important that you seek the truth. Assess your life honestly and acknowledge both your strengths and shortcomings. Practice self acceptance and resolve to overcome your weaknesses. From love of self comes a desire to live in helpfulness, compassion, and understanding of others. The fruit of love is joy.
Be clear in action. Dreams are beautiful and can inspire but are empty without action. To fulfill your destiny take conscious action now.
Be clear in prayer. Ask not that the world may be healed; ask instead for courage that you may help heal the world through your own transformation.
Be clear in intent. Decide to live in alignment with your highest self. Regardless what you do, your destiny is a joyful life. A conscious and ongoing focus on peace and truth helps make it a reality. Integrity: an alignment of speech, heart, mind, action and spirit makes you a beacon of light and hope in the world.
Life Coach Austin Texas
Clarity in Your Life © 2003
2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.