When we are stressed and overwhelmed this basic concept becomes more difficult. What can you do to communicate better with your partners, friends and work colleagues?
Recently we returned from our holiday to Korea. I took my daughter Zara there as a graduation present after she finished high school. I had not known too much about Korea before traveling to Seoul and I soon discovered just how beautiful the city was and the people were so friendly.
There is much to be admired about Seoul and the subway system was incredible – it was vast, efficient and almost like another world, complete with huge underground shopping centres in many areas. It took us a full 9 minutes to walk from the subway train to our actual street exit number 15 every single day, I don’t think that I have ever walked so much on a holiday.
We dressed in the traditional dress called the Hanbok, visited the Palace, used Ancient Coins to buy food in the markets, carved our very own stone seal and cooked a traditional Korean Meal with a chef in his home, to name just a few of the highlights. We also ate raw octopus which was practically crawling off our plate, so if you would like a laugh, head over to my Facebook page and watch the video of me trying this dish!
The experiences were very unique, the food was delicious and communication was extremely easy, as most people spoke English, otherwise we always had google translate. I am so grateful to have shared this holiday with my daughter, we loved Korea and I would highly recommend that you visit if you ever have the chance!
Ok, so let’s dive back into the topic of Communication. In its simplest form communication is a way of relaying information from one person to another. We have so many modes of communication to choose from, talking, emails, texts and various social media options.
In this blog we will focus on the one that is most important in terms of interaction, actually talking to another person face to face!
In Neuro Linguistic Programming we investigate which representational system that you use the most, your preferred one – this is determined by a simple test and can also be a dead giveaway by the actual words that you use in your conversation.
Representational Systems are the way that we receive information, we have preferred ones, however we experience all of them – the systems are Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Gustatory and Auditory Digital. Our preferred representational system will influence our language patterns …
A Visual person might say – I see what you mean
An Auditory person might say –I hear what you are saying
A Kinesthetic person might say – I feel that makes sense
An Auditory Digital person might say – I understand what you are saying
When listening to the language, tonality, pitch and pace, it is easy to pick out which system is your preferred choice without doing the test, when you know what to listen for that is!
What does that mean in terms of communication? In terms of building rapport, it is vital that you can decipher a person’s representational system and match and mirror this to build trust and engagement. Sales and Marketing experts use this constantly to get you to buy their products and services. Of course you will be unaware largely of this tactic, however when speaking to such a person, you will feel a connection and level of trust easily.
When talking to people take notice of the pace and pitch of their voice, listen more to the phrases they are using, in fact Listening is the most important tool in your communication arsenal!
Another fun way to enhance your communication skills is to find out people’s Love Languages. In Gary Chapman’s bestselling book called – The 5 Love Languages – he helps you discover your primary love language, what it all means and how you can connect with others in a more meaningful way.
Now this is not purely for your romantic partners, this can be used in the work setting. Knowing someone’s love language is something that will benefit all your relationships because again, this is a system whereby people actually feel loved and appreciated. Work colleagues, partners, friends or children, if you get this method of communication correct and interact with that person according to their primary love language, you will see a rapid increase in connection.
I will put a link below for you to do the Quiz and discover your Love Language, it will be great for your next Team Meeting or Date Night!
So what are the 5 Love Languages –
Physical Touch – touches on the arm, hugs, and pats on the shoulder are all ways to engage with this type of person
Acts of Service – Actions here are required more than words, helping them out will make this person feel loved/appreciated
Gifts – Receiving gifts will make this person feel loved/appreciated
Words of Affirmation – words of praise and recognition will make this person feel loved/appreciated
Quality Time – Undivided attention will meet this persons needs to feel loved/appreciated
In the work place a helping a colleague with a task will make their day (acts of service) for others it may be buying them a coffee (gifts) and for others still is may be praise or commending them for a job well done (words of affirmation).
At home the simple act of unloading a dishwasher (acts of service), hugs and kisses in the morning before you leave for work (physical touch) or sitting together having a coffee on the lounge and chatting (quality time) will all work miracles to increase the love and connection in your relationship.
Depending on their love language each person will respond differently with how you choose to engage with them, you can easily resolve workplace conflicts and restore harmony and respect in your home, by just tweaking what you do and how you interact with those people around you.
So for a moment let us focus on your loved ones or partners, what happens when communication with them is difficult and gets messy?
First of all we have to remember that communication is an art form and does not come with a manual. Every person is uniquely shaped by their own history, memories, emotions and how they view the world. How each person views the world will affect how they communicate and resolve differences with you.
The best communicators in the world do one thing that you too can incorporate in your own communication style and that is to LISTEN. Not just hear and wait for a pause to jump in with your own opinion, really, truly, authentically listen. When you do this, you are actively engaging with your partner and showing them respect and gaining trust.
The HALT rule works extremely well here when choosing a time to talk with a loved one. When you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, this is never a good time to have a conversation with a loved one, as the body is already emotionally in overwhelm, so the outcome is likely to be unfavourable.
Choose an agreed time when it is convenient to have a conversation. Preferably set an agenda, letting your partner know exactly what you want to discuss, love agendas are fantastic. Not only will this keep you on task, it will allow your partner insight as to what you want to discuss.
When having a difficult conversation, try to keep your statements ‘I’ focussed instead of ‘You’ focussed, this will help you get your point across without seeming critical. For example saying –
I feel overwhelmed with all these appointments …. Instead of
You are not supporting me with these appointments
The first statement is likely to get you the result that you want, more support. The second statement is accusational and likely to get you the opposite result.
At times of stress and overwhelm it is easy for our communication to suffer and for us to lapse into our selfish mode, where our ego takes over and listening skills switch off.
There have been so many couples I have spoken with over the years who are not even sleeping in the same bed, the stress of fertility treatment and the ensuing arguments and disconnect have effected their relationship deeply.
At one clinic where I worked, we used Couple numbers to identify patients, many of these patients would return to the clinic with different partners for subsequent cycles, thus be identified with different unique identifiers and a different couple number the second time around. Relationship breakdown is not uncommon when the stress of fertility treatment is an unexpected part of your life.
Admitting you are wrong and sorry is not a defeat, it is quite the opposite and shows a sign of strength and surrender to love. Unless you are in an abusive relationship, apologising is a powerful tool, to remove blame from the table, if you have already noted it, you can move on to discuss a resolution in a healthy way.
What conversation have you been putting off? What work place situation have you been unwilling to discuss? What situations do you need to change?
Conversation is not always easy, avoiding them however makes life much harder than it needs to be … and a resolution is on the other side of uncomfortable.
So in summary, some good pointers for effective communication …
Set an agreed time, have an agenda, discuss the issues, listen more than you speak.
If you never ask, the answer is always no and if you don’t ask the right questions, you will never get the resolution you seek.
Mind reading is a skill most people do not possess.
Excuses are just that, a reason for you to stay STUCK and in effect. Everything will continue to happen to you. You will be a bystander in your own life. Focus instead on getting Results.
If you are not sure of what you want, write it down to gain clarity.
Admit you are wrong and apologise before you start the conversation, this will take your EGO out of a messy conversation and then you can get on with the actual conversation, egos aside!
Fertility Coach and Reproductive Scientist
If you would like to take the Love Language Quiz, click on the link below …