Improve Your Communication – Say What You Mean

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By: Clare Evans

For me, communication is important to many things in life. Particularly in the relationships we have with the people around us at work and at home.

How often do we misinterpret what’s been said or done, just because we don’t know how to communicate properly? Making assumptions based on our own, perhaps narrow perspective and not taking into account what other people might be feeling or thinking.

How to communicate is something we learn early on in life and if we don’t know how to do it properly or we get it wrong, it can lead to poor communication throughout the rest of our life. We fall into bad habits, feel uncomfortable having difficult conversations, avoid conflict or arguments and prefer just to keep quiet.

Learning how to talk and how to say what you feel is important in maintaining good relationships, not just in your personal life but with the people you work with. If you can’t tell someone how you feel, how can you expect them to know? None of us are mind readers.

It can seem uncomfortable at first if you’re not used to it and it may not come out quite as you intended. Be genuine you will be able to get the message across, as long as the person is open to what you are saying.

Always be clear in the words that you use, the tone of your voice and your body language. Think about the message you are trying to get across.

In this age of technology, with emails and text messages being used as a regular and accepted means of communication, there is even more chance for confusion and misinterpretation.

You can’t communicate feelings or humour in an email or a text. You need to know someone reasonably well to know whether a comment they’ve made is genuine, sarcastic or insulting. I’ve seen many an email or text discussion being totally misinterpreted because it’s been taken out of context and without the underlying feeling being known.

You can interpret a simple statement in a number of different ways just by changing the emphasis on a particular word. Using a different tone would give it a totally different meaning.

Don’t use email or text for discussions where emotional is an important part of the communication. Pick up the phone or arrange for a face-to-face discussion.

An important part of communication is not only speaking but also listening and listening properly, not just waiting for them to stop speaking so you can jump in. Really listen for what they are saying, forget about how you might be feeling, put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

Whether it’s in a work or personal situation, if you have something important or difficult you want to say then:

– Set aside some time specifically to discuss it, when you’re not going to be distracted or interrupted.
– Explain what you’re feeling and what needs to happen or what you would like to happen.
– Ask for their reaction – how do they feel about what you’ve said.
– Don’t be judgemental – accept what they are thinking and feeling.
– Allow time to adjust. Reacting in the heat of the moment is not always the wisest action.
– Make any serious decisions after you’ve had time to think things through.

Above all be honest. There’s nothing worse then being told what someone thinks they want you to hear and then finding out later they were being less than honest with you or with themselves. Perhaps they didn’t want to hurt your feelings but in the end it doesn’t help either of you.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve understood something correctly – ask. Many misunderstandings arise when people make assumptions about what’s been said or what someone means. Your interpretation of the world around you is different from someone else’s based on your background, views, behaviours, beliefs and values, so what you’re thinking may be different too.

I will always prefer to assume “positive intent” when communicating with someone and I recommend that you do too. On the whole people aren’t out to get you – so allow them to clarify if you think you may have misinterpreted or misunderstood what they’ve said.

Give people the benefit of the doubt and make your communication clear and direct.

Keyword Articles: http://www.keywordarticles.org

Clare writes on several topics to help busy, stressed individuals and small business owners organise their lives more effectively. Register for her monthly newsletter at www.clareevans.co.uk and receive free tips on managing your time.

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Leadership Training: Tips for Leading Gen Y

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The Gen Y has made their mark! This new type of employee has been the cause of many management and leadership training challenges and few have truly understood what this generation needs and the thinking that goes behind what is seemingly is an unreasonable and unmanageable mindset.

From a leadership training perspective is imperative that leaders of different generations take the time to get inside the heads of their Gen Y employees and to get an understanding of what makes them tick.

Baby Boomers and Gen X leaders are cut from a different cloth. They are accustomed to principles such as proving yourself, climbing the corporate ladder, loyalty to their organisation, appreciation of opportunity and doing what it takes to get further in their own career paths.

These leaders believe they have earned the right to be at their current level of leadership and have a low sense of entitlement. They have got to their positions through sheer hard work, commitment and perseverance.

Now enter a generation who believe quite the opposite. A true test for leadership training professionals.

These leaders are being called to look beyond their own belief system into the realm of new and different ways of thinking.

Gen Y’s however are not trying to be difficult. They have been brought up in a world that is fast moving. They have their finger on the pulse of changing technology and the internet gives them the information they require in a split second. They can access people around the world and send and receive vast amounts of data in any area of their choice.

This pace defines their lives. Anything slow is boring and anything uninspiring is not worth spending time on. Diversity is king and challenge is a “must have”. If it takes too long, dump it!

Can a leadership training process make any meaningful difference to engage employees that think and behave in this way?

The answer is most certainly ‘Yes’, however without the following key actions it may prove ineffective.

Here are 7 Leadership training suggestions that have proved to be successful:

1. Ensure that your Gen Y employees are involved in decision making.

 As the leadership training guru Ken Blanchard claims, “People support and defend what they help create and decide.”

2. Know their needs and expectations of:
– you as their leader
– their team
– their role
– their career aspirations.

3. Give them ownership and autonomy

Gen Y employees want to feel a true sense of accomplishment. For this reason they do not feel a sense of loyalty to the organisation but rather to their jobs. Give them the opportunity to flourish in the path they would prefer to adopt.

4. Praise and acknowledge

They thrive on recognition and reward for a job well done. Many need this to feel alive and worthwhile.

5. Set up “buddy systems” and small teams

Gen Y’s love to work collaboratively. Get them working together, talking and sharing.

6. Encourage creativity and innovation

Set up brainstorming groups for problem solving and invite suggestions and ideas for new and different approaches. Allow them freedom of expression.

7. Never be prescriptive

Gen Y detests being told what to do and how to do it. Rather be suggestive and avoid using any power style of management or leadership.

The case for leadership training is strong. There certainly is no one right approach and with time we will get to further understand and appreciate this wonderful and challenging generation.

Article Author:  Meiron Lees

Meiron Lees is the director of InnerCents, the company is a leading corporate coaching and training company specializing in
executive coaching, leadership training, leadership management training and sales negotiation training.
URL: http://www.innercents.com.au

Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_497643_15.html

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