One of the primary keys to good communication is to speak positively.
However, if we were to look closely at the success of any great communicators, we will realise that being optimistic is not everything. Besides positiveness, there are two other primary factors contributing to any success in communications.
The three factors are as follows:
- Positiveness: This refers to a type of “feel” that one projects to others. In another words, it is how we make others feel. This positiveness can be expressed in the form of words, body language (which includes facial expressions) or even our gestures. Individuals are receptive to different type of positiveness. For example, some of us are more attuned to praises (verbal), some of us are receptive to smiles (non-verbal) while the rest of us might like others to share or at least talk about our interests and hobbies (emotional). Great communicators know about this and have applied this knowledge in every aspect of their lives, adapting their communication approaches to different individuals based on their observations of them. But it is very challenging to know the likes and passions of others, you might say. And this is very true. It is almost impossible to learn about and remember all the interests of everyone we meet. However, the good news is that we need only remember one or two things about each individual and that is enough. The important thing is not the number of things that we remember about them. It’s what we remember about them that matters, especially things that others feel positively about. I have a friend who once made an effort to remember most things that his girlfriend has mentioned. And then he sprang a surprise on her birthday by giving her a birthday card with most of the things that she has mentioned during their past conversations. This gesture has since built a closer rapport between both of them. This approach is merely an example, and I am sure that you are able to think of more creative ways to surprise your friends, yes?
- Understanding other’s realities: However, being positive towards others is just one part of the equation. We need to understand others’ realities as well. So, how do we define this term “realities”? I will define it as our dreams and aspirations. Although all of us live in the same physical world called Earth, each of us has a different “virtual “world inside our heads. In another words, we have different mindsets and our mindsets determine our lives, from the way we handles issues in life to the conflict resolution style(s) that we adopt. However, these separate worlds that each of us live in are usually drastically different from others and they are invisible to the eyes of others. This is the not-so-good news. The good news is that we are able to enter someone’s “virtual” world, if we know how. It may sound challenging but it is actually rather straightforward and simple: the answer is already right in front of us. A person’s individualised world is reflected in his or her very soul through various outlets. It’s in their tone of voice, it’s in their body language, it’s in their disposition, it’s in the language that they use (how they word their sentences when they speak or write), it’s in their dressing, it’s in their way of handling conflicts and issues, it’s in their facial expression as they talk about their passion and it’s in their lifestyle. While each of us are unable to speak to each and every one individual whom we meet or walk past, the abovementioned factors are ways that others are speaking out to us at a subconscious level. Regrettably, few of us know how to or make the effort to know someone through such observations. More often than not, we assess someone based on what they say, which is a flawed technique since words can be untruthful. But body language seldom lies and the change in facial expression of someone when they speak of their passion is almost always real. When we have a good grasp and understanding of someone’s interest, hobbies and lifestyle, we will be able to map out their world. And once we understand their world, we will be able to understand the realities of someone and enters them. Once we are in their realities, we will understand the values and beliefs that they hold and immediately sense a dramatic increase in rapport between them and us when we communicate with them. The communication process (especially when it comes to mutual understanding) becomes easier. This is also the reason why it is useful to observe the work cubicles of your colleagues, since the objects that are placed on their tables (and even the way that things are arranged) reflect the true personality of the person and the values/beliefs that they hold.
- Caring: Being positive and understanding someone’s realities are good but if others do not have a feeling that we care for them, communications will still fail. So what is meant by being caring? It does not mean pandering to their every demand but it does mean assisting them when the need arises. It does not mean constantly being with others every second of the day but it does mean lending a listening ear to others during their stressful times. It does not mean asking others to call us and informing us of what they are doing every single moment but it does mean calling them occasionally to ask after them and sending them well wishes during festive seasons. It does not mean providing advice to others every time we feel that they need one but rather, enabling them to explore the issues themselves and through this self-reflective process, coming up with solutions of their own. Caring for others is less of making others dependent on us but more of us guiding others by providing support and if necessary, words of comfort in difficult times. At times, caring also involves giving up our own personal time to address the needs of another person. Caring is usually a higher calling (of which teaching is another) that goes beyond addressing our personal needs. It’s usually achieved by enabling others to improve their quality of life through conversations with us as well as through our guidance and humour. Each of us care in different ways but as long as we care for others in some ways (be it financially or emotionally), our rapport with them will undoubtedly increase drastically. Now, what if others do not appreciate our gestures? Do we still continue to care for them? This is a common questions posed by many. My personal response is yes, we continue to care for them and lend them our support if need be. This is because acts of care are the equivalent of acts of love, which needs no reciprocity. In a world devoid of love, what will it be? It is unimaginable.
While the roads to being great communicators are long and complex, the abovementioned factors should enable all of us to at least establish a strong foundation in our quest to improve our communications with others.
One interesting point to note is that even the greatest communicators will get into conflicts with some people at some points in their lives, because each of us have different working style, communication style and as mentioned above, realities (“virtual worlds”).
In such instances, it is best that we forgive.