If you want to have a happy and successful life, you must be good at relationships. The core issue that determines the quality of your relationships is your ability to communicate.
If I could recommend one change this year (that would change everything else), it would be to improve the quality of your communication with others. If you could learn to communicate with love, making others feel respected and honored in every conversation, you would change your relationships in a profound way and you would have a better marriage, better friendships and do better at work.
Here are nine suggestions for improving your communication.
1. Don’t be afraid to communicate. You might be leaving important things unsaid because you are afraid of confrontation, hurting another person’s feelings, or losing love or respect. You may think it’s safer not to talk too much. The problem is, not communicating enough will damage your relationships. You must learn how to communicate your thoughts and feelings instead of stuffing them. The suggestions in this article can help you learn how to communicate in a way that won’t create as much confrontation, hurt or loss. You may want to practice by visualizing yourself having conversations following these guidelines.
2. Check yourself to make sure you are seeing the situation accurately before you talk to someone about it.
4. Be a master question asker. Before you say anything, ask more questions. You will be amazed at what you learn. You will also make people feel valued. Listening to someone is the deepest way you can show them you value who they are.
5. Be a dedicated listener. Listen more than you talk in each conversation. Be an active listener, repeat things back and keep eye contact the whole time. It’s insulting when you are looking around the room (or at your phone) while you’re supposed to be listening to someone. Do not agree or disagree with them at this point.
6. Validate what people say. This does not mean you agree with them. It means you honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. When you validate their right to have their perspective (as wrong as it may be), you make them feel valued and you create relationships of trust. When a person feels validated, honored and respected, they become more cooperative, open and respectful toward you. Always ask questions, listen and validate before going to step No. 7.
7. Ask permission questions before you say anything. Before you give advice, share your opinion or tell someone what you think, ask them if they would be open to hearing your thoughts. This is a powerful way to show the other person that you honor and respect them. You may want to ask a series of permission questions, such as:
8. Use more “I” statements than “you” statements. When you use “you” statements, the other person will feel judged, criticized and blamed. This will create defensiveness and the conversation won’t go well. Using “I” statements means you are speaking about the only part of this situation you know anything about — your part.
9. Focus on the future. Focusing on past behavior, which the other person cannot fix or change, creates frustration, defensiveness and may encourage the other person to attack you. Instead, ask the person if they would be willing to behave differently in the future (don’t even bring up the past). Ask them if, moving forward, they would be willing to treat your differently. This they have control over.
Changing the way you communicate is not easy, but it will be worth the effort. Just make sure every person you talk to feels heard and validated, and ask permission before sharing your thoughts and your relationships will thrive.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.