Seven bad communications habits cause trouble
The problem is that although words can build relationships only slowly, they can cause damage with lightning speed. A blurted retort, a thoughtless tweet, or a hasty remark can—and does—land people in hot water all the time. When the Neanderthal chooses our words, it never ends well.
“A simple but powerful way to improve your communication in 2014 is to stop talking and think for a minute whenever you’re frustrated or upset,” Tumlin asserts. “You don’t need to take a vow of silence, but you do need to pause long enough to keep your more thoughtful and deliberative brain in charge of selecting the words you’re going to express. Even a few seconds can help you to steer clear of the Neanderthal’s exhortations to club someone, can allow you to get in front of ill-advised words, and can provide you with the space you need to self-correct when you’re angry or upset.”
Bad Habit #2: Using authenticity as an excuse for bad behavior. “‘I was just being myself’ sounds harmless, but it’s often an excuse to indulge in destructive behavior,” points out Tumlin. “Smart communicators realize that by focusing on what they want to accomplish instead of what they want to say, they keep their conversational goals in their rightful place—above their feelings in terms of priority.
“Authenticity sounds good in theory, but in practice it often torpedoes our goals,” says Tumlin. “I’m not suggesting that you become a fake, just that you don’t cloak momentarily gratifying, but counterproductive, communication in the fabric of ‘being yourself.’ Poor communication—when your words hijack your goals—isn’t a trait; it’s a choice.”
Bad Habit #3: Multitasking when we should be listening. The digital revolution facilitated hypercommunication and instant self-expression, but, ironically, made it harder for anyone to listen. There’s just too much communication junk getting in the way. (Just consider the frenetic activity happening on Twitter at any given moment!) Our thoughts are scattered, our minds wander, and ever-present distractions make it difficult for us to focus on the person right in front of us. In 2014, most of us need to make a concerted effort to reinvigorate our listening skills.
“Intentional listening will make you more present in conversations and will decisively improve your communication,” promises Tumlin. “The funny thing is that people are telling us all the time about what they want, what they fear, and what’s important to them, but we’re often too busy thinking about what’s in our inbox or who just texted us to absorb much of what they’re saying. The ‘old school’ behavior of listening will help you become a much better communicator and will enable you to become far more knowledgeable about the people in your life.”
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