Have you ever thought about why communication is so important? Why is it so important to be mindful of not only what we say but also HOW we say it?
In today’s email, you’ll discover exactly why that is, and more importantly, you’re going to learn the best way to communicate (especially when it comes to those crucial conversations and when the stakes are high).
But first, allow us to paint picture for you, using our friend Dakota as an example.
She used to be a ridiculously blunt individual. She said exactly what was on her mind. To say that she didn’t have much of a filter would be a bit of an understatement.
Although she thought that cut-and-dried approach left no second-guessing about the “what” that she was trying to convey, communicating that way got her pretty much nowhere. Scratch that … at times, it got her into a lot a trouble; in fact, it left her without a whole lot of friends!
It wasn’t until Dakota sat down with a therapist certified in NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) that she completely understood the depth and power of effective communication.
Communication is not just a vehicle for content; it actually DOES matter how we say things and in what way we say them.
You see, at any given time we are stimulated by 11 million bits per second (bps) of information. 11 MILLION!!
Yet, our human brains are only capable of processing, at best, about 126 bps at a time. You don’t need your calculator to realize that we only have the bandwidth to process only a tiny fraction of the information being sent to us with our conscious mind.
So, what happens to all the rest of the information? Well, it is filtered through three different pathways in our brain. These three filters are:
Generalization is a pretty easy one to understand. For example, a chair is a chair no matter what color it is, what type of fabric it’s made with and so on. We all know that the thing we sit in is a chair. We don’t have to waste much processing time on that.
Deletion is pretty easy too. We tend to delete the information that is not that important to us.
Distortion, however, is where things tend to get tricky. One way to illustrate this is with my favorite quote from Epictetus, who said, “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them”.
In other words, we all view things differently, simply because of what we have experienced. So, what we have to remember is that the way we view things, or “distort” information, may be very different than others.
Let’s tie that into the topic of communication…
When communicating with others, it is important to try to understand HOW they might interpret what you are saying (and how you’re saying it).
It is always best to work on using “I” statements in order to avoid defensiveness.
Here are two examples of communicating the same message. Read them both and think about which one sounds and feels better…
**“It is because of you that I feel anxious. It’s you. You make me anxious!”
**“I have noticed that the last few times we have spent time together I have felt a bit anxious, and I am not sure why.”
You can see how the latter statement is much less offensive, and the genuine curiosity allows for a more open conversation to explore reasoning.
Communication is obviously important all the time, but it’s particularly top of mind right now because it can save us from so many misunderstandings during the holidays. Seriously, the holidays can be a bit rough with all the planning and people pleasing. A great thing to always remember is that NO ONE CAN READ YOUR MIND.
Practice your “I” statements and pay attention to how doing so changes the responses of others … You can do it!
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Or, if you’re aging faster than you’d like or are prone to illness…
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