Most everyone I work with is looking to improve their communication skills – and for most of us it’s effort worth making.  How effective we are in our work and personal lives is often a factor of how well we communicate with others.  So what to do?  Step outside of yourself!

Rather than thinking about your message – what you want to say and the point you want to make – ask,

  • what experience is the other person having as they talk with you?
  • What are they seeing?
  • What are they hearing?
  • What are they feeling?

Shifting your focus to the recipient’s experience may be quite insightful.

Instead of planning the content of your message and what you want to say – plan your delivery.  Think about how you want the person to leave the conversation – or leave the meeting. Do you want them to be:

  • Energized?
  • Encouraged?
  • Determined?
  • Focused?
  • Appreciative?

Then be intentional in your delivery – not just what you will say, but also the questions you will ask, how you will listen, how you will adjust your body language, where you will have the conversation.  Each of these elements is more important than just planning what you will say.

How to do this? Step outside yourself and think about the other person’s experience.

Take a moment and reflect on some past conversations.  If you were sitting across the table from yourself, what would you have seen?

  • Did you dominate the conversation – were you argumentative – were you quiet to the point of skepticism – how often did you interrupt?
  • Or were you engaged –listening – asking good questions – encouraging others ideas?

Stepping across the desk and thinking about how others see us gives us a good place to start in adjusting our communication approach.

Your next step: create a visual.  Sit back and visualize the conversation.  Focus on how you want the other person to feel as they talk with you.  Then visualize how you need to behave to create this experience.  See yourself asking good questions.  See yourself building on their ideas and offering yours. Identify what “tone” you want the conversation to have and visualize what you will do to make that happen.

For some – this change may be foreign enough that it feels like an out-of-body experience!  But as with all new skills it will eventually become habit – and I suspect those sitting across the desk will be quite appreciative.  And in return…….your effectiveness will soar!

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What do others experience when they talk with me?
  • What habits do I have when talking with others that I’d like to change?
  • How do I want others to experience talking and working with me?
  • Take time to visualize the conversations you want to create.