THINK Your way to Effective Communication

It has been written: “there are no sure things in life,” however, my experiences as both a psychotherapist and career counselor have taught me one foolproof exception to this adage:

Effective communication must include an awareness of self and others.

Whether socially or professionally; one-on-one or in team settings, a conversation must include an awareness of those around you and a willingness to utilize the input of all involved in order to yield productive results.

This may seem simplistic and obvious, yet we have all endured meetings or felt first dates go awry because another has chosen to use these mutual circumstances as forums for grandstanding or personal venting instead of collaboration.

No one is immune to such self-involved behavior: Talking at someone instead of speaking with someone is a seductively easy trap to trigger.

Because we all have internal stories percolating in our heads, we often perceive others as extensions of these narratives – we long to publically launder our self-involved struggles or seek alliances for even our unhealthiest of perceptions with these assumed comrades.

People also speak out in attempts to feel included or to counter their fear of being overlooked. Many others keep a tally of whose ideas are greenlighted and grow sullen when their concepts are not chosen.

Get Out of Your Mind

Conversation is best used as a method for intellectual learning and emotional growth. Discourse cannot focus on individual stances: rather, ideas need to be free floated between communicators.

I’ve created a handy acronym to help you determine on-the-spot when to speak up and when to pause, listen, and learn:

Before you comment, THINK your way to effective communication:

Timely – is this an appropriate point in the conversation for my input?
Helpful – does my comment move the dialog toward mutuality?
Insightful – will what I’m about to say add a helpful angle to the conversational goal?
Necessary – has my point already been made? Avoid redundancy
Kind – Avoid comments that are mean-spirited, funny at another’s expense, or ego-serving.

Agenda-less Contribution

Struggles occur when egos or agendas turn communication into myopic sparring matches: Successful conversation is communal – ideas flourish when they are exchanged and amended freely. Using discussion as an opportunity for collective empowerment creates a structure, which yields exponential benefits.

Envision exchanges of words and ideas as fluid dance steps which, when combined with another, create a beautifully shared waltz: People truly can make a difference – together.