The world is getting more complicated every day and office communications can seem like a minefield. So, I decided to explain how I help my clients communicate better in the office, in relationships, and in every other facet of their lives. As a psychofuturist, I draw on diverse disciplines like psychology, mindfulness, spirituality, philosophy, and biology to create a holistic understanding of human behavior. Among many other areas, this multifaceted approach has revealed some enlightening insights on how to get your point across.
Communication is the thread that weaves us together as a society. It is a quintessential human experience, but many struggle to communicate effectively and constructively. This struggle can often lead to misunderstandings, conflict, or unfulfilled needs. But do not worry yourself, here's a great structure for effective communication, which has its roots in dialectical behavioral therapy.
Step One: Identify Your Goals
Firstly, introspect and identify your goals for the conversation. What do you want the other person to understand? Is your goal to change a person's mind, help someone hear your perspective, or set a boundary? Next, rate the importance of your goal on a scale of 0 to 10.
While setting your goal, remember to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reliable, and Time-bound). Your goal should be specific enough to be understood, measurable for success, attainable (can the other person provide what you want?), reliable (are they the right person to deliver?), and time-bound (how long will it take, and how long are you willing to wait?).
Step Two: Evaluate The Relationship
The second step is about the relationship. Evaluate how important this relationship is to you on a scale of 0 to 10. This will help you adjust your approach because you communicate differently with someone you cherish versus someone you don't. Think a beloved family member as a 10 out of 10 and a telemarketer may be as a 0 out of 10. No shade to telemarketers, you are valuable, but you seem to only call at the worst times.
Step Three: Reflect On Your Self-Perception
Finally, think about how you want to feel about yourself at the end of this interaction. We may sometimes bend the truth or suppress our needs to maintain a relationship, which can leave us feeling discontented with ourselves. Alternatively, if a goal is crucial, and the relationship moderately important, we may exaggerate things, leaving us with a tinge of guilt. It's crucial to feel good about oneself at the end of the conversation – strive for a 10 here.
These three elements – goals, relationship, and self-perception – will guide you on the intensity level you should bring to the conversation.
Let's take an example. If your goal rates a 9/10, the relationship is at a moderate 6/10, and your self-perception goal is a perfect 10/10, you can initiate the conversation assertively. Start with common ground to build alignment and mutual understanding, then gradually steer the conversation to your specific needs. The moderately valued relationship means you can be candid without fear of significant harm, and staying true to your needs ensures you feel good about yourself at the end of the discussion.
The Art of Right Speech
The way we engage in a conversation is equally critical. Here, I borrow from Buddhist philosophy, specifically the idea of "Right Speech" from the Eightfold Path. Right speech encourages us to communicate in a way that is kind, necessary, and truthful.
By maintaining kindness, necessity, and truth in our words, we ensure that our communication is respectful, focused, and honest. Balancing these elements enables us to meet our goals, sustain our relationships, and most importantly, retain our self-respect.
Effective communication is a skill and like many other skills requires a lot of practice. Just because you learn how to effectively communicate does not mean that anybody else will give you the response that you want. so be patient with yourself and those around you. Good luck as you navigate the complexity of communication!