- In the absence of knowledge, have empathy. You can never know everything. Only the truly arrogant have a totalitarian view in which they believe they know everything they would ever need to know about you or a given situation. Your assumptions can monopolize conversations. Thinking you already know something, is the best way to ensure that you never will. Chose empathy and open the gate way for an incredible conversation.
- Consider who you are talking to. Using the empathy from step one, consider what you do know about the person. Mentally adding the experiences you share and don’t share is a great place to start. Believe it or not, next 4 items can all have the same impact on a person’s ability to hear or listen to you (combine 2 or more and watch out!):
- Volume – Intensity or compassion can trigger raised voices. Consider this. When approached by loud voices some of us become emotionally and intellectually deaf. We see moving lips and an opportunity to ignore disrespect. We have practiced nodding and agreeing…until you leave which will inevitably be followed by a sigh of relief.
- Word usage – Extended vocabulary or big words can clutter. There’s no need to talk down or up. Talk parallel by noticing if the person you are talking to squints or scrunches their brow or moves lips to one side of their mouth.
- Tone – Some people are hypersensitive to inflexion, detecting sarcasm or feeling patronized. Human beings learn how to anticipate bad and avoid it. Many negative experiences, physical and non-physical abuse, is ushered in with harsh tones.
- Profanity – It should go without saying…but s#*t Happens! It just doesn’t have to happen every time you open your mouth. I know it is “just how you are” but why is that more important than who you are talking too?
- Listen as if a test is going to be given on everything they are saying. The fact is, it will. Information is a gift. If they provide responses or information to you, it is a present. If you then act like they didn’t offer this, because you weren’t listening, you refused the gift. Rude!
Oddly enough, it is free to pay attention, both to yourself and others. Have a clear purpose when you communicate. To do that, you must pay attention. Your conversations will be more meaningful and you will experience less regret.