Communication has often been regarded as a soft skill – but is that really the case? If we think about it, communication is essential for, well, everything. Unfortunately, clear and effective communication often gets disrupted either through our delivery or in our listening when “life” gets in the way – enter heart-centered communication.
Heart-centered communication recognizes that humanness is an integral aspect of all communication. Communication that does not come from a caring, kind, clear, and deliberate place will likely result in misunderstanding, confusion, and upset.
Heart-centered communication takes the “skill” out of it and creates the intention of caring for all parties involved.
Practice Being a Good Listener
The first step in any level of communication is actually hearing what is being said — active listening. When you actively listen, you set yourself up to ask the right questions to gain a better understanding of what is being said and thus, reacting appropriately.
“Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” -Dale Carnegie
Find Your Center
Take a moment to find your center, that place where you can come into communication from a place of awareness. Being self-aware will allow you to come from a place of trust, in turn creating a space for your team to speak honestly and openly.
Do you remember when we talked about the superpower we all have within us – our smile? Use it to set an encouraging tone for open and honest communication. As Dale Carnegie noted in How to Win Friends and Influence People, “it costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.”
Make It a Distraction-Free Zone
Before sitting down for a heart-to-heart, let everyone know that you will be unavailable. Turn off your phone and your computer, or at the very least disable notifications for the duration of your meeting. Unnecessary interruptions create a break in the continuum of conversation, and once this happens it can be difficult to find your way back.
Ask More Questions, Give Less Advice
The more questions you ask, the better you are able to understand what is being said. Asking questions instead of offering feedback allows you to make sure your assumptions are in-line with what is being conveyed or to correct false interpretations. The more questions you ask before reacting the more opportunity you have to properly respond. Remember, responding to misperceptions and misinterpretations doesn’t help anyone.
Dale Carnegie may very well have said it best, “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” Instead of going into a conversation solely focused on the points you wish to make and where you are coming from, take a step back and open yourself up to the ideas of others. Even if you do not find yourself in agreement with what is being said, your ability to be open-minded will allow for more thoughtful, honest, and productive conversations to work through disagreements. After all, the premise behind having a team is collaboration and collaboration doesn’t come from only one person’s ideas.
Whether you agree or disagree with what is being said, it is of the utmost importance that you show respect to your team and colleagues. Becoming guarded and defensive is a surefire way to turn your team off from feeling comfortable with openly communicating with you in the future.
Remember that there are no winners or losers. It is not about right or wrong, there is no “he said, she said” – it is about coming to a place of understanding that can only be reached if everyone at the table feels like what they are bringing to the table is being valued for what it is worth, regardless of agreeability. A difference of opinions can often fuel a greater, and more collaborative, solution.
Summarize For Clarification and Closure
Summarizing what has been established ensures that everyone leaves on the same page, understanding the goals and expectations of what is to come.
Last, but certainly not least – always follow-through. It will not matter how productive a conversation feels or how heart-centered your communication was if you do not follow-through with the expectations agreed upon. So check-in with your team along the way, make sure that everyone is feeling supported in reaching their goals.
Better communication results in stronger relationships which creates exceptional teamwork – the ultimate goal.
“Listening empathetically leads to asking good questions and hearing what is really being said.” -Dale Carnegie