I like the sentences by Luo Xiang, a Chinese jurist:
Misunderstanding is usual in life, and understanding is rare and unexpected.
If you think about it carefully, it is true that everyone grew up in a different environment and received different education. Sometimes you may express an idea and have a completely different meaning when it reaches the ears of others. Communicating with others is something we spend all our lives doing. If the communication is ineffective, it will fall into the dilemma of casting pearls before swine and even becoming the fuse of many conflicts. So, how to improve our communication skills, to avoid ineffective communication?
1. Be clear about your communication purpose
“Effective communication depends on the communicator’s mastery of the topic, not the sweetness of the words,” says Andy Grove. This phrase goes to the heart of effective communication: “What are you trying to achieve?” Communicating with others is undoubtedly the process of the output of our ideas. If we are unclear about our fundamental concepts and confused about sharing with others, how can we understand others? Just as we are writing a thesis, we should keep the topic in mind no matter how beautiful the words are. So before communicating, you might as well write down your goals and expectations secretly first, and then think further about how to elaborate and express with others.
2. Combine “facts” with “comments”.
One of the most common mistakes we make when communicating with others is to skip over the description of observed “facts” and go straight to the other person’s relentless “comments.” This action reinforces the negative emotions and makes communication more difficult but conveys very little practical information.
For example, a girl in the process of communicating with her boyfriend suddenly says something like, “You don’t care about me.” A guy may feel confused and think the girl is being unreasonable. The girl skips the statement of “facts” and directly comments to make the boy feel strong negative emotion but not know what to do. But if a girl can say something like, “You’re so slow to text me back, it makes me feel like you don’t care.” A boy may know what his problem is and communicate, explain and improve.
3. Make “concrete requests” instead of “abstract commands.”
We can do it by the following formula:
“Specific description + indicates expectation + request not command”
Here’s an example that maybe all of us know firsthand: a mother telling her child, “You should be a serious child.” This sentence seems to say something, but in reality, it does not. It is an “abstract command.” Imagine if we are this child, one moment feel the mother is ordering him and feel instinctive aversion, two is not sure what is “serious,” and do not know how to do. So the effect of “abstract commands” is “ineffective communication.” If the mother could rephrase it differently, for example, “I hope you will be more careful when you do your homework and make fewer silly mistakes, I believe that if you keep at it, you will become a serious child, ok?” This allows the mother to communicate her expectations for the child more clearly and makes it easier to accept.
4. Learn to shut up and listen
Communication is a matter of “you come, and you go.” While expressing ourselves clearly, we should also consider the ideas of others. As the saying goes, “It takes three years to speak and a lifetime to shut up.” “Active listening” can improve the efficiency of communication and reflect a person’s culture. When the other person has something to say, first of all, we need to restrain our over-exuberant desire for expression, calm down and allow speaking back to the other person. Secondly, it’s not enough to nod and be silent while listening. It’s a little trick to make eye contact correctly and repeat the last thing the other person said. Finally, after the other party expresses, make a summary and feedback of what he or she has said. Then confirm with him or her whether the information you have received is correct, let the other party feel your respect and acceptance, which can promote deeper communication between you.
5. Adjust your aura to capture your essence
To avoid ineffective communication, it is crucial to regulate your aura, as it can help improve the atmosphere in which you communicate. I don’t know if you have ever met such a person. When he or she opens his or her mouth, he or she seems to be “arrogant,” as if he or she is constantly contradicting others. It is easy to provoke others’ desire to win and fight, easily turning friendly communication into a battle. To communicate effectively, we need to tone down our aura as much as possible and show the other person that we are willing to listen and cooperate.
I would like to quote a sentence by Zeng Shiqiang, a Chinese Sinologist:
Just listen to what the other person says and don’t care what he or she says.
Communication is a two-way street, but it’s always easier to change yourself than someone else. “The art of conversation is the art of listening and being listened to.” Effective communication is to realize the two elements of “understand others” and “speak your own words.” No one is naturally good at expressing themselves, and no one can communicate overnight. The seemingly accessible “efficient communication” lies beneath both parties’ emotional intelligence and cultivation.
Reference: ONE by Yekashuo
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