Note: This blog post was originally posted in 2017. The information is still applicable today and is worth re-posting.
Good communication skills are key to success in life, work, and relationships. Without effective communication, a message can turn into error, misunderstanding, frustration, or even disaster by being misinterpreted or poorly delivered.
Communication is successful only when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information; therefore, in today’s highly informational and technological environment, it has become increasingly important to understand and have a grasp on at least the basics of communicating with yourself and others.
It is sad to note that many individuals still continue to struggle, and that inability to communicate effectively will hold them back not only in their careers but in social and personal relationships.
I share these two critical points with you:
1. Communicating with Yourself – Positively
The greatest communication skill of all is positive communication with yourself. Mentally laying out your plans, ideas, and strategies – doing it lucidly and taking time to think everything through, is the most critical communication ability you can achieve. In the beginning, my communication with myself had been sloppy, ill-defined, and often negative. I didn’t even know what I needed or what direction I had to follow, to begin my journey toward fulfillment. Later, however, as my positive self-communication improved and I was able to define my goals and targets, I found that it went hand-in-hand with achieving success and consistently hitting bull’s eyes.
2. Communicating with Others
Successful communication with other people involves a laundry list of “ground rules”. Many of them are just common sense. Be polite. Be positive. Be attentive. Don’t interrupt. You know all of these things. However, there is another “ground rule” that I believe more should practice. That ground rule is simply this:
“Avoid Defensive Pushback”. Defensive behavior is what happens when someone perceives or anticipates a threat. The threat can mean virtually anything that feels uncomfortable such as disapproval, ridicule, inconsiderateness, etc.
In the words of Stephen R. Covey, when communicating with others, we should practice the habit of seeking first to understand – then to be understood. Further, when communicating with others, we can exercise our greatest power, our power of “choice”. We can choose to accept and use viewpoints shared with us, or we can choose to thank others for sharing their viewpoints and then mentally discard the information. There is no need for argument or defensive pushback.