Posts tagged communication skills
Posts tagged communication skills
Different people use different strategies for managing conflicts. These strategies are learned, usually in childhood, and they seem to function automatically. Usually we are not aware of how we act in conflict situations. We just do whatever seems to come naturally. The 5 styles of managing conflict are:
1. The Turtle (Withdrawing) – Turtles withdraw into their shells to avoid conflict. They give up their personal goals and their relationships. They stay away from topics that may bring conflict and they avoid people with whom they are in conflict. Turtles believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts. They feel helpless. Turtles believe it is easier to withdraw from a conflict than to face it.
2. The Shark (Forcing) – Sharks try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict. Sharks make their goals of the highest importance; relationships are less important. They seek to achieve their goal at all costs. They are not concerned with the needs of other people. They do not care if other people like them or accept them. Sharks assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and the other person losing. They want to be the winners in the conflict. Winning gives them a sense of pride and achievement. Losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy and failure. They try to win by attacking, overwhelming and intimidating other people.
3. The Teddy Bear (Smoothing) – To teddy bears, the relationship is of greatest importance, while their goals are of little importance. Teddy bears want to be accepted and liked by other people. They think that conflict should be avoided in favour of harmony. They believe that conflict cannot be discussed without damaging the relationship. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt and that would ruin the relationship. Teddy bears say, “I’ll give up my goals and let you have what you want in order for you to like me”. Teddy bears smooth over the conflict.
4. The Fox (Compromising) – Foxes are moderately concerned with their own goals and about their relationships with other people. Foxes seek compromise. They give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of his goals. Foxes seek a solution to conflict that allows both sides to gain something. They seek the middle ground between two positions. Foxes are willing to give up a bit of their goals and relationships for the common good
5. The Owl (Confronting) – Owls highly value their own goals and their relationships. They view conflict as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their goals and the goals of the other person in the conflict. Owls see conflicts as improving relationships by reducing tension between two people. They try to begin a discussion by identifying conflict as a problem to be solved. By seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person, they maintain the relationship. Owls are not satisfied until they find a solution that satisfies both parties and that resolves the tension and negative feelings between the parties.
1. Remember that honesty is the basis of any healthy relationship, whether with a friend or a significant other. Honesty gives rise to trust, which is absolutely essential.
2. Consider the person with whom you must be honest. If he or she is shy or sensitive, then don’t be brash and to the point. If it is a close friend whom you can tell anything, then inform your friend accordingly. Adapt to your friend’s personality and convey the necessary message properly.
3. Seek a favorable environment for divulging the truth. Don’t tell them something potentially hurtful in front of other people if you can avoid it. People will be able to take your honesty better if they’re not under social pressure. Try to get them alone. Face-to-face is best; it lets the other person read your body language and helps them put your words into emotional perspective.
4. Recognize some potential situations where a response is necessary, and where a white lie might not be reasonable.
· The “Am I fat?” question. If your friend is being self conscious, and is only a little bit on the big side, then reinforce that belief. Don’t say “You’re not that fat”, as this comes off as sarcastic or insincere. Rather, use a comparative note. Consider, “You are not fat—trust me! There are a ton of people out there that are much bigger than you.”
· The “Am I ugly?” question. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is subjective! Everyone has different areas of beauty; it’s important to stress these areas. Your friend might not have the most beautiful body, but he or she may have gorgeous eyes, or a smile that stops traffic. Make this clear to your friend or significant other!
· Your friend wants to break up with his or her significant other. It’s important to stress your opinion, but only if it’s relevant. If you simply do not like your friend’s boyfriend, then don’t use that as an excuse to persuade your friend to end the relationship. If your friend’s boyfriend is abusive, then convince your friend to break up on the grounds that she might get hurt.
5. Give advice constructively. When expressing an opinion that may conflict with that of the other person, particularly if it is about some work that they have produced, focus on the positive aspects of a recommendation, and avoid phrasing it as a mandate. Rather than saying “I don’t like it because…” or “You should do this instead…”, try something like “I think it would help to…” It is also best to mention any positive remarks you may have about the subject before giving advice. This way, the person is less likely to perceive it as an affront on their abilities and is more likely to consider following your advice.
6. Be as specific as possible. Your friend is likely to read more into what you’re saying, because they’ll (sometimes subconsciously) wonder what you left unsaid. So be as exact as possible in telling them what they need to know, and also think about what else they might read into your statement, and proactively tell them when they shouldn’t. This also has the advantage of introducing positive emotions into your statement, which softens the impact.
1. Make sure you’re feeling in control, emotionally, before raising the issue. You don’t want to react (or over-react). You want to remain calm, and to come across as being balanced and reasonable.
2. Choose an appropriate time and place for the discussion.
3. Confrontations usually put people on the defensive. Therefore, begin the conversation by expressing your positive intentions. Pay attention to your tone of voice and body language. These should be open and warm, not aggressive and attacking.
4. Choose your words carefully. Describe specific, identifiable behaviours. Don’t label people.
5. Describe the effects of the behaviour. For example, when you do (x or y), it tends to lead to (z).
6. Take responsibility for your own feelings and reactions. Use “I” language. For example, I feel angry, put down, and written off.
7. Make the focus what you WANT, not what you DON’T want.
8. Ask the person for their input, suggestions and ideas - and then wait and listen for their perspective. If you can co-operate together, the outcome is likely to be much more successful and positive.
It’s normal to feel anxious in a new situation … in a new job, at a party, or a social event. We know that first impressions matter … And so much hangs in the balance … And we want to seem like someone who is warm and friendly … And not like someone who is stupid, or some weirdo to avoid. Understanding body language is fundamental here … And the tips below can help you make the right impression.
1. Project an impression of openness: The number one key to appearing warm and friendly is projecting an aura of openness. This is usually achieved by using open body language - which basically involves the following:
· Don’t cross your arms; allow them to hang naturally at your sides.
· Similarly, if you’re sitting down, keep your legs stretched out and uncrossed.
· Lean forward to show an interest in the other person.
· Stand up straight; don’t slouch.
· Smile (that helps to put both you and the other person at ease).
2. Pay attention to eye contact: Making good eye contact is essential as well. It indicates you’re happy to be talking to that person, are comfortable and confident, with nothing much to hide. However, if someone won’t meet our eye, it makes them seem a bit more shady (or it can simply send the message that you lack confidence.) Also, try to be natural and don’t stare at the person, as they’ll feel uncomfortable and want to escape.
3. Adjust your signals to the other person’s signals: An astute individual is also aware of, and can read the body language, of other people too. For example, if their non-verbal language seems quite closed and defensive, you may need to back off and give the person space.
4. Engage in Conversation: To create a great impression, you really want the other person to pick up the message that you think they’re wonderful! The best way to do that is to ask them open questions – so you find out all about them, and the things that interest them. For example, what kinds of things are they passionate about? What are their hopes and their dreams for the future? Then respond to their answers with other open questions - to build a fuller picture of what that person’s like.
1. Learn to recognize when you are feeling stressed – This will help you to reduce your stress before it is expressed as destructive anger.
2. Work on developing your empathy – Trying to see things from another’s perspective often helps to dissipate intense emotions.
3. Decide to respond instead of react – Although the way we react often feels automatic, we can actually choose how we’ll think, feel and respond. This is empowering, and the road to freedom.
4. Change your self talk - Listen to the conversation in your head and learn to modify extreme, unbalanced thoughts. Look for exceptions to “you always” thinking, and reframe “you must” or “you should” demands.
5. Learn to be assertive – Honest and open communication about your wishes, needs and preferences can stop resentment building – so it doesn’t turn to anger.
6. Adjust your expectations – Often anger is triggered by a difference between our expectations and what we actually get. Thus, sometimes it is better to adjust our expectations so they’re more in line with reality.
7. Forgiving doesn’t also mean forgetting – Although it is healthy to sometimes let things go, that doesn’t mean we weren’t hurt, upset or offended. The difference is we’re choosing to move on with our lives, and we’re not being controlled by external events.
8. Remove yourself from the situation – Retreating temporarily or “taking time-out” provides some space to think about the “best thing to do”. Thus you maintain control of yourself and circumstances.
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to identify and manage your emotions in a positive way – and to effectively handle the emotions of others in your life. It consists of four key abilities:
1. The ability to be self-aware– This is being able to identify, understand and handle both your positive and negative emotions. It includes being aware of your “buttons” or your triggers, and knowing when you need to step back and regroup.
2. The ability to manage powerful feelings and reactions – This is being able to control impulsive feelings so you respond in a healthy, constructive ways. Also, being able to adapt to unexpected demands, or to changes to your plans at the drop of a hat.
3. Being socially aware – Having the ability to read and understand the needs, concerns and emotions of others. This includes being sensitive to body language, and picking up on social rules. (This applies to group dynamics and cultural norms, as well.)
4.Being able to relate effectively to others – Being able to build and maintain relationships, to communicate clearly and effectively, to work with other people as part of a team, and being able to apply conflict resolution skills.
In summary, EQ is related to acquiring skills in the following areas:
Skill 1: Being able to quickly reduce our personal stress.
Skill 2: Being aware of, and in tune with our feelings at all times – so we remain their master, and can choose how we will be.
Skill 3: Being able to connect with the people in our lives through the use of body language, or nonverbal messages.
Skill 4: Being able to use humor to dissipate emotions and deal with the problems and the challenges we face.
Skill 5: Being skilled in problem solving and conflict resolution.
1. Pay attention to time and place. It’s better to deal with things privately, and when neither person is stressed, or pushed for time.
2. Be respectful – and give thought to the words that you are using. Don’t attack, blame or shame or use profane, abusive language. (Often “it’s not what you say; it’s the way that you say it.”)
3. Don’t just pile on the negatives, or list all your grievances, hurts and complaints. Make sure you mention things you are grateful for, and things that are good, and are not going wrong.
4. Try to keep to the topic or your point will lose its focus. It’s easier to deal with one thing at a time.
5. Related to this, try to be specific – and not vague and general. Also, name the emotions you are feeling at the time. I
6. Keep control of your emotions, and try to stay calm. Very little will be gained if you start to lose your cool.
7. It’s not about winning and being seen as being right. The goal should be “improving your relationship”
8. Finally, remember that anger often masks and covers hurt – and is actually a sign that the person’s seeking love. So work on building empathy and deepening your love.
1. To be accepted as being genuine, the compliment must sound sincere. Don’t offer a compliment if you don’t actually mean it. Your tone of voice or body language will give you away.
2. Everyone has something worthwhile that you can comment on. Often it’s just a case of getting into the habit of noticing what is special, or a strength, in that individual. Make it your practice to consciously look for things to compliment.
3. Be specific. For example, say something like “You look great in that shirt. It really is your colour.” That shows that you’ve noticed something about the person themselves, and are not just trying to be friendly or nice.
4. Add a question after paying a compliment. For example, after commenting on the person’s shirt you could say “Is it new?” or “Did you buy it to match those pants – they look great together?”
5. Don’t use comparisons when you are giving compliments. For example, don’t say something like “You did so much better than Keira and Sam. Let the compliment stand in its own right. That way, it’s actually more powerful.
6. Compliment areas that are important to the person. Those are more personal and more meaningful to them.
Starting a conversation to get to know someone or breaking an awkward silence can be very stressful. To start a conversation when you have nothing to talk about, use these guidelines.
1. Introduce yourself if necessary. If you don’t know the person, breaking the ice is very simple: look approachable, tell the new person your name, offer your hand to shake, and smile.
2. Comment on the location or occasion. Look around and see if there is anything worth pointing out. Examples of location or occasion comments include: “This is a gorgeous room!”, or “Great dog!”
3. Ask an open-ended question. Most people love to talk about themselves, and open questions can help with this. These require an explanation for an answer rather than just a simple yes or no. Open questions tend to begin with who, when, what, why, where, and how.
4. Keep the conversation going with small talk. This keeps the conversation light and simple, and helps to establish similarities.
5. Synchronize. Once the other person has started talking, follow his or her cues to keep the conversation going smoothly. Use active listening to reflect what they’re saying and, perhaps, feeling.
6. Helpful techniques and cues to convey your interest include: Say the other person’s name from time to time; give encouraging feedback (by nodding, saying “ah-ha”, “wow’, “oh” “That’s amazing!”, etc.); keep your body language open and welcoming; and make comfortable, genuine eye contact with the person.
7. Be aware of your internal monologue. When you suddenly feel that you’re not able to engage in conversation with someone else, it’s likely that you’re saying negative things to yourself. For example, you may be worrying that you’re boring, not good enough, too unimportant, intruding, wasting their time, and so on. Try to keep in mind that everyone has these self-doubts from time to time.
8. Respond thoughtfully to someone who remains awkward or uncomfortable. If he or she appears withdrawn and uninterested, don’t persist for too long. Try a bit more, and then make the decision to move on and talk to somebody else. Also, be careful not to ask too many questions as they may feel shy discussing themselves.
1. Use the word “I” instead of “You” as it demonstrates the speaker has self respect, and believes that their feelings and opinions should be heard.
2. Don’t stare the person out – but maintain steady eye contact. If you look to the side, look down or look away, it indicates discomfort or timidity.
3. At the same time, pay attention to your body language. Make sure that you seem open, and not hostile and aggressive. For example, your hands and palms should be open and relaxed, don’t point your finger, or wrinkle your face, don’t cross your arms, or look angry and tense.
4. Also, pay attention to the way you speak. Try and moderate your tone of voice; and don’t swera, use obscenities, or call the person names. However, don’t start to mumble or speak in a low voice as that can indicate a lack of confidence, and signal to the person not to take you seriously.
5. If you start to notice you’re becoming upset, then work on your breathing, and try and slow it down. Also, breathe deeply from your stomach - and visualise yourself as someone who is calm, strong, and being heard.
6. Remember that no-one else is going to stand up for you. You deserve to have respect, and to be treated well by others. Also, you have the power to establish boundaries, and to set appropriate limits on the treatment you’ll accept.
Respect can be hard to quantify and measure. It means recognizing our own value and worth, and the value and worth of the other person. But what does that look like in relationships?
1. Think before you speak. Remember … you can’t take back your words no matter how much you regret them. So, don’t react in anger, and say mean and nasty things.
2. Acknowledge the other person’s contribution. Even when you have frustrations and some justified complaints remember to notice the positives as well. It’s likely that your partner does something right at times. Don’t write them off completely and see them as “all bad”.
3. Respect their personal boundaries. This applies to spending time, and doing things, with other people. Also, respecting their right to have their own views and opinions – without justifying their reasoning to you.
4. Being flexible and willing to compromise. Relationships are based on both give and take. It’s about the needs and preferences of both individuals.
5. Be considerate. Help the other person out; give each other compliments; and generally be thoughtful, kind and understanding.
6. Admit when you are wrong. If you’re secure, confident and have a healthy self-esteem you won’t be threatened by admitting you were wrong.
7. Never compromise the other person’s wellbeing. For example, if your temper’s a problemseek professional help. Also, don’t play with emotions, or attack their character.
8. Be honest and reliable. Be upfront and honest in your relationships. Don’t lie, pretend, play games, or let the other person down. This undermines that basic, and essential, sense of trust.
1. Listen carefully when others are speaking. Keep your mouth shut – and focus totally on them.
2. Never, ever talk over other people. This is disrespectful – and a real turn off.
3. Even if the person leaves an hour between each word, resist the temptation to complete their sentence for them.
4. Don’t interrupt - let the other person finish. Then, acknowledge what they’ve shared before adding your own thoughts.
5. Paraphrase or summarise what’s just been shared. It shows that you have listened – and are keen to understand.
6. Maintain good eye contact as this says you’re interested, and the speaker and their story are important to you.
1. Give your energy level a boost. It’s hard to be friendly, and to focus on others, if you’re feeling really tired and would rather be in bed. To keep going, grab some coffee or a bite to eat, or go outside for a few minutes, and get some cool, fresh air.
2. Have some tactics at the ready if you don’t know the people – or if you have to be with people you would rather avoid. For example, if you don’t like the people, ask a friend to go with you … and have a great excuse for leaving once you’ve done the minimum.
3. Plan ahead to avoid conflict. Aim to stay in control of your reactions and emotions – and resist the pressure to take part in arguments.
4. Control your contribution. If you’re quiet and introverted then value you who you are. Don’t expect yourself to be a party animal. Show respect for yourself by taking time out if you need to, and only talk to people that you want to be around.
5. See it as a chance to practices a few social skills. Take the pressure off yourself by practising your social skills. For example, ask a few open questions, and keep the focus on the speaker. Try and come across as friendly through your use of body language – like making good eye contact and smiling while you talk.
1. Smile: People who smile are viewed as being warmer and friendlier individuals.
2. Be easy to impress, or to make laugh and smile: Others also worry about how people see them. If they think that they’re succeeding, then they’ll like you even more.
3. Show interest and liking through your use of body language: Face the person, look them in the eye when you’re talking, and show you are friendly through your open body stance (uncrossed arms and legs etc.)
4. Remember the power of transfer traits: Basically, that means that if you say nice things about other people, they assume you’ll say nice things about them, too … Or if you criticise others, then you’ll criticise them, too.
5. Poke fun at yourself: It makes you seem more human and approachable.
6. Remember the power of emotional contagion: That means that others tend to pick up the emotions we project. So, if you seem laid back, warm, happy and relaxed then those you are with will start to feel the same way, too.
7. Remember the name and few basic facts about the person you are talking to: Such as their job, college major, favourite hobby, favourite food, places they have been to or awards they have received.
When you feel like you’re going to burst a fuse, quickly ask yourself the following:
1. What good will it do?
2. Will I end up looking better or worse?
3. Will it make the situation better or worse?
4. Am I over-reacting? Is this person pushing my buttons?
5. Am I really just having a bad day in general/ am I feeling tired, depressed or stressed?
6. Can I turn this in to a joke and find a way of using humour instead?