What does the phrase “be a better communicator” mean to you?
The first things that come to mind usually focus on being understood. Perhaps we think we should speak more clearly or explain ourselves better. We always look at how we speak and how others hear us.
The thing is… communication is a two-way street. For successful communication, while one person talks the other needs to listen. While our desire to communicate better brings our focus to the speaker, one of the most powerful ways we can become a better communicator is to become a better listener!
Next time you are talking with someone, try one or more of these steps:
- Focus on what they are saying until they are done speaking. Then create your response.
- Be patient. Breathe, and focus on what is going on right now rather than what you need to do next.
- Look directly at the person speaking – especially at their face. What additional information do their facial expressions tell you about what they are saying?
- Watch their hands and their body movements while they speak. How do they feel about what they are saying?
- Occasionally nod or make an acknowledging sound that lets the speaker know that you are following what they are saying.
If any of these steps are new behaviors for you, they might feel a bit uncomfortable at first so try them on a few different times. We live in a fast-moving, impatient world. These may not be easy skills to implement at first, but it’s worth it. When you improve your communication by becoming a better listener, you will respond more often to what the speaker was actually trying to say rather than what you think they might have said.
How does this style of communicating by being a better listener feel different compared to when you do not follow these steps?
In what ways does it impact your communication experience?
So, how’s your email inbox looking these days? Do you cringe when you see how many files you have stored up? If you’ve decided you really can’t take it anymore, here are just a few easy ways to start managing your email:
- Stop the flow of clutter. Are there any emails that you regularly receive & just delete without reading them? That’s a good sign that they are part of the “clutter”. Next time you see one of these emails, take a moment to open it up and “unsubscribe” (there should be an unsubscribe link at the very bottom). If you have trouble letting go of any of these messages, keep this in mind: If you find in the long-run that you miss them, you can always re-subscribe.
- Organized obliteration: If you decide to go on a cleaning spree, you can use the “search” function to help you move along quickly. Before you delete an email you receive regularly (see previous point), copy their email address, paste it in the search bar, and hit the search button (or enter, or the little magnifying glass…). When the whole list comes up, delete them aaaallllll.
- Round-file it: When you are done with a message, do you normally delete them or move on? Now’s a good time to create a new habit: As soon as you are done reading a message, hit the delete button rather than just moving to the next message. Delete is your friend!
- Sometimes it pays to save: Email may serve as the ultimate storage device. If you receive information via email that you suspect you will need to access later, consider leaving that message in your email where you can search & find it later.
NOTE! If the subject line of the email does not reflect the information that you are keeping it for, do this:
- Forward the message to yourself with a new subject line using keywords that identify the information you are keeping it for (i.e. schedule for trip to Paris, recipe for one-a-day chocolate cupcakes that help you lose weight…) and then…
- Delete the original message.
Final thought: Managing your email box is a goal to be always working towards, not a static state of being. It’s a journey, not a destination, if you will. The route you choose to get there will define how close to your goal you stay. Consistency is key.