Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winning Communication Skills by J. Mitchell Perry

I would like to thank my father-in-law for providing me with an amazing resource:  J. Mitchell Perry's Winning Communication Skills (audio recordings).

I feel unable to go into much depth here, so I will briefly share and paraphrase three tips that have helped me tremendously:

1.  Overcome the "tyranny of the shoulds."  When we use the word "should" on ourselves, we feel guilty, when we use it on other people, they get defensive and angry.  Instead, try using "I want to," when talking to or about yourself, and use the same phrase or something like "I suggest," "I encourage," or "I invite you" to . . . when talking with someone else.  I feel confident that eliminating the shoulds from your vocabulary will decrease guilt and help you overcome conflict.

2.  Replace the "yeah-buts" with "and," or "on the other hand."  Often, when we have a heated conversation with someone, we pretend to be listening and we say, "Yeah, yeah, BUT" . . .  And then we proceed to spill out the retort we've been rehearsing while the other person was blabbering.  Additionally, we often compliment people by saying, "I think you did this great, BUT" . . .  And then we proceed to tell the person everything he's done wrong.  In short, replace but with "and," and replace "yeah, but" with "on the other hand."  Both demonstrate understanding and help reduce conflict because they demonstrate our acceptance of one option, while calmly presenting another.

3.  Avoid speaking in the language of exclusion.  The language of exclusion says what things are not, instead of what they are.  "How are you feeling today?"  "Oh, I'm not bad; I'm not too shabby, I can't complain, I'm not dying," etc., etc.  Or, "I don't know; I'm not sure, I have no idea, I've never done that before."  These are all negative expressions that avoid saying what something is.  Instead, say what it is, and put it in your own feelings.  For example, "I'm doing great, I feel wonderful, I'm having a great day, etc."  Sound better?  Or how about, "I feel unsure/uncertain; this is the first time I think I've heard that; this may be the first time you've heard this; you may find this interesting (vs. this probably isn't very interesting)."  And on and on.  Speaking in the language of inclusion helps to describe what things are, while effectively communicating what we actually feel, which, surprisingly enough, reduces resistance because when we say what we feel and give our experience, it makes things more legitimate and real.  A quick final example:  "I don't like what you're doing" vs. "I feel uncomfortable with your behavior."  Which feels more legitimate and real?

I strongly encourage you to look into this 4-set of audio recordings for a multitude of other enormously helpful suggestions, which I feel incapable of succinctly describing here, such as effective listening (which is HUGE, just ask my wife).


Christy said...

You should listen to these more, but I don't think that you should stop talking to me. You should always to everything perfect. We don't accept imperfection in our family.

Cougar Abogado said...