post written by: Marc Chernoff

3 Communication Tips for Building Stronger Relationships


Communication Tips

This guest post was written by Karl Staib, author of Work Happy Now!

Last week I was talking on the phone with my brother, and even though we live 2,000 miles away from each other, he could still feel my sour attitude.  He asked me if everything was okay.  I was a bit surprised because I thought I was covering up my mood quite well.

I brushed off his question and told him I was fine.  He wasn’t buying it and the rest of our phone conversation struggled along.

People can feel the real message you are sending, whether you are talking to them on the phone, in person, or online.

Don’t Just Reach Out to the Fools

I’m convinced most people can smell fear and bull crap.  If you try to cover it up, they may be fooled at first, but eventually they catch on.

My subconscious usually picks up on whether or not people are sincere.  If someone is being insincere, I can feel this and I begin looking for validation.  Even if it’s just a split second feeling, I will be on the hunt to make sure I’m right.  My attention is distracted and I have trouble taking the person seriously.  That’s why as communicators (writing, speaking or body language), we have to believe that our audience is smart, savvy and ready to find faults in our message.  This also goes for an audience of just one.  It’s a problem that’s easily solved as long as you remain true to yourself.

If you believe in your message then other people will trust you.  This isn’t always easy, so I’ve devised three questions that I ask myself before I talk or write anything to anyone.

Rules for Communication:

  1. Am I telling a story?  (People connect to a story, not just facts.)
  2. Do I really believe this to be true?  (When communicating, we need to believe in everything we say.)
  3. Is this valuable?  (Will the other person find humor or knowledge in the message?)

When I first started on Twitter, I was prone to just retweeting (sending out someone else’s tweet) anything that seemed cool.  There were times when I did not even take the time to check out the source.  So wrong on many levels. One time I retweeted a link then clicked on it and it took me to a jacked-up site that gave no value at all.  It actually had animated flying pigs on it.  And they weren’t even artistic.  Just a bunch of ugly pink pigs.

The bottom line is you have to concentrate on sending out the right message to other people, otherwise you won’t be creating a likable personal brand that separates you from the wannabes.  In this day and age of social media we all need to manage our personal brands.  Future employers will be Googling your name to see if you’re communicating certain messages online that don’t mesh well with their corporate culture.

You may not be trying to be an Internet superstar, but surely you’re trying to be the best communicator you can be.  Because if you can’t get your ideas across clearly and with conviction, no one will ever listen to you.

Putting It All Together

We live in the greatest era for communication – a time when we can create our own brand and package it in a way that makes us happy.  Twenty years ago we were stuck with the channels of communication that big business gave us.  Of course we could put out a printed newsletter or ‘zine, but it was costly and its reach was limited.  Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites make it so much easier to spread our message and our brand.

You now have the ability to create your own happiness through communication of your expertise.

I write about work happiness and right now there are more people working happy than ever before because they are able to express their true selves while they work.  People like Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, and Leo Babauta (Check out Leo’s story – it’s fascinating) have communicated from their heart and now they have a dedicated following.  They did this by believing so strongly in their message that nothing could hold them back from success.

The key is knowing who you are and figuring out how to maximize your thoughts through communication.

How do you optimize your ability to communicate well?

It’s not easy, but worth your time to practice it.

Always remember the three words - Story, Heart, and Value.

Story

Make sure you tell a story that helps people connect to a specific concept.  Even the people who gossip about others know this because usually you are already intrigued by the person they are talking about.  That’s why it’s hard not to listen.  By sharing something about a person whom you already know, you can become more connected.

Gossiping is wrong if it’s done to tear someone down, but gossip can also be positive. (i.e. a mother sharing a story about her daughter’s relationship with a friend or a manager sharing a story with her employee about another co-worker’s accomplishment in order to motivate her.) This type of communication can help us get through a tough time or find a solution to a problem.

Heart

Before you say something, always check in with yourself for a half second to see if it’s really what you believe.  Do this again and again and again.  The time you take to develop this awareness, the more comfortable you will be with communicating to individuals and crowds.

You probably think you do this, but do you really listen?  The difference between a writer who makes it and a writer who is always trying rests in their passion for the truth.  You can’t believe what you want to believe because it’s easier.  You have to communicate straight from your heart… and that takes guts.

Value

Does this information help the person in some way?  When telling a story, try to think of it as an opportunity to teach.  I’m not talking about ‘after school special’ lameness.  I’m talking about opening a person’s eyes to new perspectives or motivating them to try something new.

When you communicate with the people in your life, you are setting the tone for future interaction.  If you create positive feelings then they will want more stories from you and more time with you.  If all you do is regurgitate other peoples thoughts and ideas, but don’t check in with your soul first, eventually the people around you will notice and stop caring.

Conclusion

You have to choose communication that will build stronger, healthier relationships.

How are you improving your ability to connect to your true self so you can communicate your message effectively?  Are you communicating from the deep depths of your heart?  If so, let us know in the comment section.

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy on his blog: Work Happy Now!  If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles, Creating A Project Ritual to Encourage Happiness.

Photo by: Scott Beale

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15 Comments

  • Interesting post. I’ve never looked at it this way before but I can see a pattern in what you describe. Value is very important to me - if I don’t think it’s valuable, it doesn’t exist. Also with heart, I have to believe it since I’ve got a lump of strong opinions and beliefs that ravish most new things that come along until they fit. So I suppose all in all, it seems to be working. :)

  • Great post and very thought provoking. I couldn’t agree more that we really do have to make certain we are being authentic and genuinely interested in other people when it comes to communication. It is easy to fall into the trap of just focusing on ourselves and what we are trying to do, but the real value emerges when we are able to shift our focus to other people. What are we giving them and how are we delivering it?

  • I really find rule #2 to be of the utmost importance.
    “Do I really believe this to be true? (When communicating, we need to believe in everything we say.)”

    My favorite authors are those who write exactly how they speak, think and feel. I like it when people are real. I feel like I do this well with my writing, but I need to work on it when communicating with my husband! Hey, I am a work in progress, what can I say? Just keeping it real!

    Great post! Thank you!

  • So very true. I can’t agree with you more on how important it is to communicate from the heart. I remember reading that there is no such thing as original writing since all the information we relay is reused over and over again. However, what would set apart one writing from another would be that strong sense of conviction that could only come from the tone used by the writer, which is actually evident through his heart. If writer’s believe what they write about, then they could provide it and tell the information through a whole new light suitable to their intended audience.

  • Very thoughtful and well written message Karl, kudos. I agree that all of us who are concerned about our personal brand need to spend a little more time and take a little more care when it comes to communicating our message.

    The storytelling aspect is so key and I find that I always have far more success with an audience (whether it is a live event or on a blog) when I tell good stories that they can connect to.

    Great inspiration for me this week cheers!

  • Excellent post. I will be using this as a topic for my client’s today as a learning tool.

  • that’s a great post because many people mess things up these days because of not knowing how to communicate properly
    thanks for sharing MArc:)

  • We all need to be careful with what we say and how we say it. The only way to do this is to listen before we speak.

    We must listen to our thoughts and feelings, and not take them lightly so we can speak from the heart.

    Thanks Marc for allowing me to speak to your audience. It’s why I choose to give you this article. Your audience is all heart. I love that.

  • Wise advice. Thanks for sharing it with us, Karl.

  • I always feel I’m covering up my mood well but the truth is that people are much more sensitive than you realize. I am constantly amazed at what my family members pick up about my mood.

  • I quite liked this article.

    Communication, to me, is a two-way street. That means that as the sender I’m responsible for ensuring that my message (or story) is able to be clearly understood. The receiver (or reader in my case) can let me know if they understood the message or not. It’s a two-way path and requires both sides to make communication work.

    I really like the Story, Heart, Value statements as they can help validate the message.

    Karen

  • I didn’t realize how finely-tuned our sense of communication “sincerity” is until I started doing freelance work. Trying to promote yourself to prospective clients is incredibly difficult, because they’re naturally guarded against all business solicitations. I’ve realized over the past few months how important it is to build genuine, non-sales communications up with clients, before inquiring about your service.

  • Hi Marc,

    We all have a natural tendency to treat our daily conversations with a great degree of casualness. And most of us know that small talk has the potential to create big results in your life. When we approach each conversation with respect for the other people involved, we’ll be taking a big step in the right direction towards better communication.

    The first smart communication tip is to begin operating from the wisdom of an enlightened mindset.

  • Good communication is a vital component of healthy relationships. This is common knowledge we accept as fact. However, applying the concept isn’t always easy – especially during disagreements. Expressing yourself without appearing blaming or judgmental is often where this goes wrong. Problems occur when we make assumptions about what, how or why someone did whatever occurred. To avoid this trap, ask questions. Allow the person to answer. Listen while attempting to understand the other person’s point of view. Successful relationships depend on good communication to keep them strong. This is especially important during arguments. Use these tools to pull you through to the other side:

    · Avoid blame and judgment. Explain what you thought and how you felt without assigning responsibility to the other person for your reactions.

    · Do not make assumptions. You seldom truly know why someone did whatever occurred. The conclusions you make will be based on your past experiences vs. the other person’s perspective.

    · Don’t let your emotions dictate your behavior. Feelings are important and should be acknowledged. However, do not react to whatever is triggered. Instead, make a purposeful decision about how to respond.

    · Listen! Pay attention instead of planning your defense strategy while the other person is talking.
    informative post i really enjoyed thanks for sharing this keep going

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