Most of us would agree that just about everyone needs to expand or improve their communication skills. If you want to communicate better and more effectively with others, start by improving the communication you have with yourself.
Ask yourself these questions — and answer them honestly:
- What do I say to myself when things go right?
- What comments and questions come into my thoughts when things are not going well in a specific situation or in my life in general?
- Do I ask questions that result in my doing things more effectively the next time?
- Do I ask questions that cause others to become defensive or do I ask questions that allow us to have a good, productive discussion?
Now that you’ve answered these questions, are you sure of your answers? Really sure?
When my clients really pay attention to their personal and interpersonal skills over time, many of them find they revise their original answers. And you may, too.
The reality is that we are usually very hard on ourselves, so our thoughts focus on what we have done wrong, or what we wish we would have said or done, or what we have to do next. Seldom do we have a naturally developed ability to revel in our successes or to ask ourselves what we learned from a situation.
What would life be like if you reduced or discontinued your negative conversations with yourself? And how would that impact your conversations with others?
The QuestionThinking Model
Marilee Adams writes about using QuestionThinking in all our communications. The idea behind QuestionThinking is to ask questions and to learn not to judge.
So instead of saying, “What will they think of my idea?” ask yourself “What do I want them to do as a result of hearing my new idea?” or “How can I best help this person understand my new idea?”
If you’re someone who says to yourself, “I can’t believe I said that!” ask yourself instead, “What happened when I said those things? How can I say them differently?”
I ask clients to create new phrases to begin their questions. For example, “Help me understand the options you evaluated ….” or “Tell me how you arrived at your conclusion about …” might be more powerful words for opening a discussion with an employee who is apt to defend their mistakes.
Using questions to help others see your point of view or to help them become more open to discussing sensitive issues will make you a more effective leader or manager.
Additional Resources: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 7 Powerful Tools for Life and Work by Merilee G. Adams
At Kinetic Insights, our PathFinders are skilled in helping leaders unleash the greatness in themselves and in their organizations. Call or email us for a quick discussion that just might put you and your team on the path to significant change.
Gail A. Froelicher is Founder, CEO and PathFinder of Kinetic Insights, LLC. For over 11 years, Gail and her team of PathFinders have journeyed with their customers to forge successful paths in rapidly changing business environments.