You’ve been cooped up with your significant other, your kids, your grandkids, your roommate, etc. for the past several months due to the COVID-19 quarantine. Now, to say that this has been both a beautiful blessing and caustic curse for most Americans is probably stating an uncomfortable reality.
Yes, you love spending quality time with family during the lockdown. Yet, you also are likely suffering from heightened tensions due to the constant proximity and general sense of cabin fever that the current conditions have created.
Now, the country is fortunately reopening, with all 50 states beginning to lift restrictions on shelter-in-place orders. And while that is great for the economy, it’s also great for the many Americans who have been under a lot of psychological pressure due to their intensified personal interactions.
So, what can we do about this situation? How can we enhance communication with our families, children, roommates or whomever we are in constant contact with?
To answer this question, I consulted master communicator, public speaker, writer and personal finance expert, Heather Wagenhals. Today, Ms. Wagenhals was kind enough to provide us with a few key techniques on how we all can improve our communication skills.
Jim Woods (JW): Okay, Heather, The Deep Woods readers want to know, what are your best tips on how to enhance communication?
Heather Wagenhals (HW): The first thing to do is realize that a conversation is not a 50-50 engagement. It is 100% both ways. Try to approach every communication as less about getting your point across and more about understanding. Consider it your obligation when communicating to try and achieve a clear sense of mutual understanding. We all approach the same things in a different way. So, it is helpful to remember that in any communication, especially ones that are strained during times of duress, to set aside our personal opinions of what we think is going on or how someone “should be” handling things and connect with people where they are.
JW: What about the concept of Mehrabian’s Rule? Does that apply here to familial communications?
HW: Indeed it does. Mehrabian’s Rule tells us that more is spoken without words. This rule is viewed as a ratio that explains how much emphasis we put on parts of communication, which is 55-38-7. So, 55% of our communication is nonverbal. This is body language, gestures, facial expressions, posture, etc. We say the most without even saying a word. Then 38% of our communication is audible. This is what we hear that includes volume, rate, pitch and vocal inflection. Only 7% of our ability to communicate is the actual words we use. So, make sure what you are communicating with words is what you are communicating with the other 93% of yourself.
JW: What about the importance of listening in good communication? I feel my interactions are enhanced when I pay close attention to the listening aspect.
HW: Listening intensely, and in full focus, is critical. Try to avoid thinking about what you are going to say next, avoid interrupting and just truly listen. Failure to do this will result in you missing out on quite a bit of information. The value of listening intently is that you will learn where people stand, and you will have even more information. Most people will tell you exactly what’s on their mind if you listen with both your eyes and ears.
JW: Excellent. Any final tips?
HW: Yes, and this is the most important — always think before you reply. By remaining calm and not engaging in instinctive and possibly overly emotional reactions, we can find ourselves in our highest resource states. These are the states that allow us to think objectively and clearly. This is where we review the information we have just received, and we can adequately evaluate the meaning of our conversation. Did the other person give us enough information to elicit our understanding? Is a follow-up question necessary for clarification so that we do not make any assumptions? Unless we stop and think about it for a moment and be genuinely contemplative, a knee-jerk reaction in communication can have an adverse impact, not only on that conversation, but potentially the entire relationship.
JW: Excellent. It is always a pleasure to get your insights, and I did think about that response before I replied.
HW: Well, then, you’ve listened well.
Just by Living
and let go
it’s just life after all
and you’re doing
just by living.
Thoughtful gems can be found almost everywhere, even on Instagram. The social media site is the where the writer, Atticus puts out his passion, and he’s built a huge following in the process that’s generated three bestselling poetry collections. In this piece, he reminds us not to complicate things by being too self-critical. Remember, you’re doing it right just by living.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
In the name of the best within us,