You talk everyday. Even to yourself. Every conversation you have plays a part in whether you end up having an uplifting day or a challenging one. From the first 'hello' until the time you say 'goodnight' you live in conversations. Those conversations shape our entire lives.
Conversations begin and end friendships, determine whether your business or job thrives or dies and if your relationships flourish or become damaged beyond repair.
How many of us know someone who was told as a child that they would never amount to anything, that they were stupid, fat, ugly, or conversely, brilliant and beautiful? How many people lived up to what they were told? Did you?
Words are powerful. Yet we take them for granted.
What impact have your words had in the past 24 hours?
Did they build someone up or tear someone down?
Communication is everything.
Spend today actively listening. Pay close attention to EVERY word you hear or speak. Employ what author Robert Mayer calls the '75/25 Partnering Secret': Listen 75% more than you speak.
Sound hard? Understandably, for some of us that process will feel like we're being muzzled. Try it anyway. If at this point you're saying, 'I thought the whole point of this thing was being a powerful communicator.' What's more powerful than being 100% present in every conversation?
You're not fully present if you're not paying attention. Your conversations aren't as rich if you're not fully listening. The other person is not respected if your answers are combinations of grunts, 'uh huhs' and occasional 'mm-hms' while you're multitasking.
To become a powerful communicator, you must become a powerful listener. You must understand that our lives are lived in conversations. Conversations are two-part interactions: talking AND listening.
Hold a one-day experiment: really focus on the content of your conversations.
Are you making idle chitchat?
Are you teaching?
Are you gossiping?
Are you being abusive?
Listen to yourself. Hear what other people hear when you open your mouth. Take an inventory of your communication. When you do that, an amazing thing happens...you begin to understand why people respond to you the way they do.
You begin to understand why people seek you out or talk to you only when absolutely necessary. You begin to get very clear on how you show up in your conversations.
How much do you use the word 'I'?
How much of your conversation is about you?
How often do you listen to what's important to the person?
People simply want to be heard. We want to know that someone cares about what we think and feel and do. Ironically, we tend to regard people who listen intently as great 'conversationalists'.
Powerful communication begins with powerful and purposeful listening. It involves paying attention instead of hurrying to make your point. It means hesitating when you can easily 'one up' a story you're told. It means occasionally allowing the other person to have the spotlight.
Powerful communication means not saying the first thing that comes up when someone makes you angry. It means understanding that you're writing a chapter in another person's life.
Today, really listen to your communication. And at the end of the day, ask yourself if your conversations helped create a better place to live.
Copyright © 2008 Annetta Wilson
--- Submitted by Lauren C. --- New Jersey
Annetta Wilson is a business strategist specializing in media training and presentation skills coaching. A talent coach for CNN, she has also coached for Walt Disney World. She makes it easier for high-profile individuals and teams to communicate more powerfully. Annetta is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years experience in the broadcast industry, a Certified Trainer and a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst.
Visit her Web site at http://speakwithease.com/