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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Part 3: How to Connect So Your Message is Received

Connecting so your message received is really a two-part answer.  We'll address the first part today; the second part is listening well, which we'll tackle in the next segment.

Emails laced with undertones and between the lines commentary do not offer the reader an open line of communication.  Someone conversing with you being vague enough to not answer questions fully makes you wonder what else you don’t know.  No doubt you've experienced some of this. 

It’s tragically pathetic - people not valuing others enough to have candid conversations.  Yes, conversations!  A verbal exchange of ideas filled with awkward pauses, eye to eye contact, fumbling through sentences, and losing your train of thought.  It's perfectly acceptable to admit during a conversation, "I don't know," or "I'm really not comfortable talking about that right now."  Not everything is up for grabs during a conversation - but there's no need for secrecy, just discretion.  
Conversation is a lost art and must be revived.  It is not tawdry or reliant on sarcasm – it leaves both parties feeling better (not necessarily resolved) about any given topic.  
Be fully present.  Don’t think about what you’re going to say next, focus completely on what’s being said now.  Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood.  Beginning with a diatribe, written or oral, does not make your message more worthy.  If anything, it puts your listener on the defensive.  If you want discord, you’re on the right track.  If you desire open communication – thoughtful, shorter replies and insightful questions win you bonus points every single time.

Body language.  Mimic their stance - this isn't new.  If they are leaning in, lean in.  If they lean back, do likewise.  Shift your weight accordingly.  Your conversation partner may see what you’re doing, but it still puts them at ease.  Be aware when someone else has become uncomfortable or you've struck an unknowing chord (crossed arms, step backwards, looking away or at their watch).   
Consider for a moment, when you walk up to someone to speak with them, when you join a group already talking, as you approach all your communication that’s happening before you open your mouth, is non-verbal.  
Meaning the other person uses all five senses in the interaction: 83% sight, 11% hearing, 3% smell, 2% touch and 1% taste.  How does your approach come off?  Have you set the right tone before you've uttered a word?  Or have you shot yourself in the foot?  Do not underestimate the importance of non-verbal communication in connection.  Love stories have stood the test of time by romantics who didn't speak the same language!  So smile and nod the whole way through. 

Agree as much as possible.  Yes, it’s possible to agree with someone else’s perspective and still hold your own differing stance.  Yes, you can still be friendly and agree to disagree.  How boring the world would be if we all agreed on every point all the time.  I’m glad all the books written and movies produced don’t have the same storyline.  Variety is Godly!  

Having your message received 
does not equal getting what you want.  

Having your message received means knowing you've been heard and understood.  I can receive your message and disagree with it, but I've heard it and understand its importance to you.  The reverse is also true.  As you’re smiling and nodding along, speak truthfully, yet with gentleness and reverence.  

When you've been diligent enough to understand someone else, I don’t think it’s too much to ask the question, “Do you understand my point of view?”  It’s a yes/no question, not in need of a “but.”  “Yes, but …”  If you've heard them and they've heard you, it’s perfectly okay to disagree knowing you fully understand one another.  A better response is “I do see your point of view.  And I’m so glad you've taken the time to understand mine.”  

What about the last word?  Hmmmm … we all know someone who needs to have the last word in a conversation, be it verbally or electronically.  And if you don’t know who it is, it’s you!  Be comfortable in your own right.  Those in need of the last word, need the perceived power the last word holds.  Let them have it and excuse yourself gracefully thanking them for the time to talk.  Let your last words be gracious.

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