We’re often so proud of ourselves for making the effort to communicate that we don’t pay attention to our approach. Becoming aware of how we present our thoughts and ideas can get them across more clearly. Simply paying more attention to yourself can help: is this how I’d like someone to talk to me?
Women are said to be better at communication than men. We believe in communication, and advocate learning to communicate. Yet our desire to communicate doesn’t always help us express our needs so that people actually get our point without getting an attitude.
Why is this? Women are great at talking but communication is much more than that. We tend to use much too many words, explaining and explaining… communication overkill… until we get the response we want… or alienate the person. My rule: the less said, the more you get across.
Many people have developed selective hearing. Certain cues from a speaker signal the low/off volume on what they hear. How rude you might say. It is, but we must take responsibility in part for the way we’re heard. Bad experiences have conditioned people to tune out from specific triggers. The attitude in the speaker’s voice is a common one.
When we’re gung ho about getting a point, complaint or suggestion across, we don’t always give much thought to the method. All energies go to the message rather than the vehicle for it.
Which do you prefer: the momentary satisfaction of ragging on someone who tunes out and just gets defensive and/or angry, or getting your point across clearly? It’s important to know and accept that:
• If speaking up politely angers someone, it’s his/her problem.
• Real friends respect your right to express.
• Protecting your own feelings is most important.
• If you aren’t disrespectful or mean, too bad!
Speaking up doesn’t change that you’re a nice person. Always pause and think about your response in situations that trigger emotions or require a commitment that you might not want to give.
Communication skills can be very helpful in being you to leave DoorMatville. It’s crucial to learn to express your anger in clear, non-blaming statements. Find a way that’s comfortable for you, but do it! A good method of communication in any situation is to keep things as non-threatening as possible. Be kind. Often the person doesn’t mean to hurt you. Start any negatives with a positive, letting your friend know you don’t think she’s doing anything purposely.
For example, to a co-worker: “I appreciate the job you’re doing but I’d like to let you know that when you do___, it makes me feel you don’t think I’m smart enough to handle the task.”
To your romantic partner: “I love you but don’t love when you___. I’d appreciate you making an effort to be aware of this and respect my feelings.”
People take criticism better when you don’t put them on their guard. Be aware of your communication, so as not to make it sound judgmental. If it’s said kindly, in a nice, not nagging tone, your message will have a better chance of being heard as it’s meant. And say whatever it is directly to the person. Never have someone say it for you! When something is bothering us, we often want to spew at the person causing the problem. Whether it’s a work colleague, friend, romantic partner, or person not giving you good service, communicating nicely will get you further. Ask yourself whether you want to get even with the person or to get good results? To hurt the person or have them responsive to your needs? To vent your rage or get them to understand how you feel and perhaps be cooperative? If you want the more positive choice, then communicate nicely.
Daylle Deanna Schwartz is a speaker, self-empowerment counselor, music industry consultant and best-selling author of 11 books. Her latest book is Nice Girls Can Finish First