Tammy shares tools that empower you to design your own fresh perspective, an action plan for today that will change your tomorrow.  "It's all in how you look at it."

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

4 Steps to Avoid a Communication Breakdown-Part 1

We have all been there. In the middle of what we believe to be a good conversation, expressing our side, giving our input and right before our eyes something explodes. It leaves us wondering, 'how did this happen?'

The scenario is not uncommon. It happens in our relationships, it happens in our offices, with our friends and family. It happens on the phone, it happens at the grocery store and even driving our car. Whether we are communicating verbally or in writing, a communication breakdown can happen at any moment.

In a work setting, many people just think that by ignoring the breakdown, the problem will miraculously go away. Others feel hopeless that no matter what they try, nothing will work and they are left to feeling defeated with no control. Some may take on the challenge of addressing the breakdown upfront only to retreat to their corner when met with opposition.

In a family or personal relationship, often times our communication strategy is to simply get what we want with least impact as possible. But what happens overtime is that we stop talking all together because the path of least resistance only creates avoidant behaviors.

While communication is an art form in and of itself, it is not as difficult as some believe it to be. The key to good and clear communication is to always be willing to speak on the side of truth. Often times the age old adage that Less is More rings true with how we communicate. Our emotions can drive the tone and flavor of the simplest of messages leading to total upheaval in our work and family.

To assist you in developing a new strategy that supports good communication, we have outlined 4 easy to implement steps that you can start using today. Today we will detail the first two of the steps to support you in transforming the way you communicate.

1) Identify your Motive - Just as you do when you get in your car to drive, you have a motive and a plan of where you are going, and how you want to get there. The motive is key to the success of your trip, it impacts the choices you make and the outcome of the effort. Communicating is no different. You have a motive, whether clearly identified or not, and you will have an outcome. The success of the trip is also impacted by the choices you make. Good and bad, right and wrong. The key is understanding your motive in such a way that the plan or course you choose toward your outcome is the most efficient and effective. While you can't always avoid the speed bumps or pot holes, you can make course corrections and adjust your speed to ensure a safe arrival.

2) Speak from a Place of I not U - With your motive clear, and your plan mapped out, it is always best practice to speak from that place of I - not YOU. That means we choose our words, just as we do our course of action, carefully. We focus on explaining what 'I understand,' or 'I need,' or why 'I am confused.' The party on the other end of the communication will most always receive what you are saying more openly when you aren't pointing a finger at them. When we use words that focus on fault finding and blame, asserting that 'you did this' or 'you don't understand,' we put people on the defensive. Recovering from a defensive stand is one of the most difficult communication barriers to overcome. By keeping the focus on what you need, want, understand and desire - the you is on you, not them.

Tomorrow we will cover the final 2 of the 4 steps to avoiding communication breakdown. With these simple to implement steps in your toolkit for success, you will most assuredly see marked improvements in your relationships at work and home.

Coaching Q's: What is your communication strategy? On a scale of 1-10, how successful do you feel with your communication skills? What (if anything) do you want to change about that?

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