Want Better Communication in Your Life?

Here are 7 Tips You Can Use Now

I was recently afforded the opportunity to speak to a group of independent businesswomen. What an honor! The talk was titled “Building and Keeping Relationships,” with the focus on business relationships, which, in many ways, aren’t much different from any other kind of relationship.

Want to know what builds and keeps a relationship strong? Well, a lot of things really but the common denominator is, unsurprisingly, communication.

But what about communication? Everyone knows it’s important but how do you do it well so it works in all kinds of situations? Especially, if there’s a problem. Here’s some of what I shared:

1. Think about what it is you want to ask for before you start the conversation. Give the listener something constructive to respond to. Is it a behavior change? An apology? Maybe it’s just recognition of something important to you. Be clear in your mind on the front end.

2. Start with the facts. What actually happened? Next, share (as appropriate) your emotions around the facts.

3. Use a roadmap. Think about your conversation as a part of a structure with a beginning and an end so you won’t be left in a never-ending circular argument. I’ve talked before about thinking about a discussion like a book and the chapters within.

4. Listen well: be patient, don’t interrupt, and summarize what they say to make sure you understand them accurately.

5. Try to get clear on what the issue(s) is/are. Even if you still disagree or see it differently, at least try to name what the thing is.

6. Pause the conversation if you need time to think about your response. It’s better to respond rather than react.

7. Not all situations resolve well and not everyone works at improving relations. After doing your best, you may need to simply move on. As a wise man once said, "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."