Communication is such a big topic and you will almost certainly have read many articles on how to communicate effectively and the importance of body language etc (in fact I’ve written several!). I thought this time I’d tackle the more subtle aspects of communication and explore how to communicate effectively even when you are not actually speaking.
You may want to print off this newsletter and take a stroll away from your desk, perhaps go outside or to a quiet area where you can reflect on it.
Effective communication is all about opening up a two way connection and this is less about what is said and more about the thoughts, emotions and beliefs of those involved. Can you remember feeling a strong connection with someone before they even spoke a word?
Try one or more of the techniques below next time you have an important meeting with someone and notice the difference.
1. Smile inwardly and warmly
Some people are easy to communicate with because they give off a lovely warm ‘vibe’ that encourages you to open up to them.They tend to be the people that smile from the inside out.
Try it now. It will make other people feel welcome and relaxed and it will make you feel calm, together and present.
A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home. Author Unknown
2. Think of the other person as an undiscovered friend
We feel warmly towards our friends and get to know them as whole people in all aspects of their lives. We also forgive them easily, as we know that a ‘grumpy look’ or a ‘moment of distraction’ will be down to something else going on for them. We ask them what is wrong or mention that they look distracted. We want to understand because we care.
We also tend to look for the things we have in common rather than the things we don’t. We look for areas of connection rather than disconnection. We know that we will enjoy interacting with each other.
What if you believed that every interaction was going to be like that?
True friendship is sitting together in silence and feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had Author Unknown
3. Breathe together
Communication is all about connection and one of the most powerful ways we can connect with others is through the pace of our breathing. When you meet someone notice the rhythm of their breathing. If you can comfortably do so, match their rhythm, breathing in as they do and out as they do. If you can achieve this then a little bit of magic happens.
I remember several years ago, when I was a project leader in a large organisation, my project sponsor and I had a key meeting with a Senior Vice President, Allan, who I’d never met before. I was quite intimidated by this senior figure but I decided to experiment with rhythmic breathing. At the beginning on the meeting Allan barely seemed to notice me and focused all his attention on Jeff my project sponsor. As the meeting went on he and Jeff continued to discuss the project as if I wasn’t there. Undetered I watched Allan’s breathing and gradually managed to get mine in sync. A few moments after I’d acheive this Allan turned right round to me and apologised for ignoring me and asked me my opinion. It was like magic!
Try it and see.
The secret of effective communication is to concentrate completely on what is going on between you and the other person, switching everything else off. To engage completely.
The best way to do this is to truely listen. Listen to what is being said and listen to what is being implied. Don’t think about what you are going to say next – just listen.
You can influence a conversation far more by listening that you can by talking, and if you are listening and engaged you will intuitively know what to say next.
5. Connect with yourself
It is very difficult to communicate effectively with other people and to make a connection with them, when you are not connected to yourself. In order to have presence you have to be present so get yourself grounded and centred.
You may already have a technique for this, but if you don’t, try this one. Become very aware of the weight of your bottom sitting on the chair and then notice the strong connection into the ground with your feet (this works best with your shoes off and your feet flat on the ground). Once you can feel the weight in your bottom in the chair and the connection with your feet on the ground take a few few deep diaphramatic breaths and say to yourself ‘I’m here’.
Once you are connected to yourself communicating with others becomes easier.
The distance from another is the distance from ourselves. Richard Moss
I hope you find these ideas helpful.