26 things I’ve learned about Communication

I’ve got a riddle…

What do we people do every single day, sometimes without knowing it, and often don’t know how to do well at all?

In celebration of my latest spin around the sun earlier this month, and because it’s a new time to start fresh and reset, I thought I’d close the year off with 26 things I’ve learned about Communication.

  1. You cannot not communicate.

2. You can never over-communicate.

3. It’s easy to speak. But to truly speak and make it matter, you must listen first (and listen more).

4. Your opinions aren’t truths. They may be your truths, but they are not absolutes. With that, nonverbal communication is more accurate to the truth than verbal communication. If you ever get mixed messages, you could learn more by simply saying: “I know you’re saying (x), though your body language right now tells me (y).” See what comes up.

5. Understanding the truths of others — the lens in which they see their world through — makes it easier to decide how best to communicate with them. It’s “speaking their language” in practice, and with strategy.

6. Real, productive communication does not just happen. You work at it, like with everything. It takes thoughtfulness and care.

7. You can learn so much about the person or situation at hand by simply asking one question: “What do you want?”

8. Wait 24 hours before acting on anything that’s made you angry. You’ll realize how much of a breather you needed. If you’re writing an email, keep it in draft, then re-read it… and then re-write it.

9. Communication can either make a problem or break a problem. You choose how to use it.

10. Learn to be an asker of good questions. Great communication takes constant clarification.

11. Brevity and clarity are the greatest gifts you can give to others when communicating.

12. Approach every conversation with the intention that you’d like to leave the person better than you found them.

13. Some comments made by others in moments of interacting may make you feel unsure, offended, caught off guard, disrespected, embarrassed, confused, etc, and you might not know what to say. And so, very simply, “I’m not sure how to respond to that” is exactly what you can say. It gives the suggestion that something there was not okay with you, and that’s a fantastic start to calling poor communication and judgement out.

14. Often times, when someone wants answers, what they’re looking for is to be given questions. Ask away.

15. Arrogance is straight-up ugly. Remember: every human being you meet knows something you don’t.

16. You cannot control what or how people say or do things. You can only control how you respond. Which leads to…

17. Reacting and responding are two different approaches in communication. You can even hear the difference in the tone of their words. One sounds abrupt, hasty, tempered, emotional. The other sounds thoughtful, deliberate, attentive, compassionate. In the heat of a conversation, create space for yourself to respond.

18. Be clear about what you want. “This is what I need from you” is not selfish. It is honest, and it’s refreshing for a person to learn what others expect from them easily and clearly.

19. Don’t “should” anyone about anything. For a variety of reasons, try living without “should” in your vocabulary at all.

20. You are a likable person when you are a curious and engaged person. Being interested in others makes others naturally interested in you.

21. If you’re wondering, just ask. You’ll likely be clarifying for more than just yourself in the room.

22. “Before you propose to speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

23. Assertiveness comes off as aggressiveness if not done right. Aggressiveness is rude, unkind, and ignorant. Assertiveness is direct, constructive, and validating.

24. If you’re someone who “hates small talk”… then, change what constitutes your small talk. Remember: Curious and engaged. (“Yeah, you’re right, the weather is a mess lately. But hey, the storm had me curled up inside with a book this week so I’m happy for that! What’s the last one you read?”) Annnnnd you’re off to the races.

25. If you can’t say it, show it. Actions can, and very often do, speak louder than words.

26. The purpose of communication, at its core, simply comes down to this: Showing one another that we matter.

Originally published at www.influxtion.com on December 31, 2015.