Six Ways to Build a “Rich” Life By Improving Communication

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6 Pillars Logo V7 copyBy Herb Weiss

You could have all the money in the world but if your most important relationships are splintered or injured your life doesn’t feel very rich after all. Effective communication at home and within all your vital relationships is key to maintaining a meaningful, healthy and thriving personal life says Author Donna Mac, a well-known corporate communications trainer. Ms. Mac is based in South Eastern, Massachusetts, with 25 years of experience in the broadcasting industry. She translates effective corporate communication into tips for use in enhancing communication with the people most important to you.

The corporate communications expert notes that a recent article in Psychology Today says that whether a partner’s communication “lifts you up or brings you down” is the single largest predictor of divorce. “That one trait either strengthens or hinders all relationships, professionally and personally”, says Mac.

So, mastering your communication skills may be the best gift you can give, leading to a much “richer” life.  Mac, founder & president of Rehoboth, MA-based DMacVoice Communications, explains her Six Pillars Of Effective Communication which can bring healthy energy into  ailing relationship and bring you closer together with the people most important to you.

Six Pillars of Effective Communication   

 

“The first pillar in becoming a more effective communicator”, Mac says, “is tied to ‘knowing and owning who you are.’ That is because how you feel is directly related to how you make your “audience” feel. You must be comfortable with who you are and understand that you have a right and a responsibility to communicate effectively”.

“Also, get a sense for whether you are an extrovert or an introvert”. Mac notes that this will influence how you interact with people.  According to Mac, communication tends to flows more easily for extroverts.  Introverts need more time to process before they speak, but they are usually better listeners.

She also cautions against being a passive, or even a passive-aggressive communicator. Both of these styles are non-productive but they are easy to fall into. Often times it feels easier to be a passive communicator because being an effective communicator take courage and work. “These days, it’s easy to retreat behind our computer screens,” she says.

The second Pillar calls for the need to understand other people.  “Understand how your personality and communication style differs from that of the people you’re trying to relate with,” suggests Mac, who says that there are differences as well as varying points of view in every relationship. “When you disagree, be open to the possibility that either of you may be “right” or “wrong” or a bit of both. Be open to learning something new.  It is also important to make it easy for the people you’re communicating with to share his or her vulnerabilities and ask for your help.  “Create a safe space for communication by allowing and encouraging people to communicate often and to be authentic”, she adds.

To use a phrase from her book, you can continue to “understand your audience” by speaking less and listening more–intently and often. And try to do so while you are judgment free. Mac says that people easily sense, “our negative assumptions and judgments”.

Pillar three encourages you to “master the content of the conversation” you are about to have. She stresses the need to be clear on what it is you would like to say especially if you have to have a challenging conversation.

Mac says, “You may need to practice how you are going to broach an extremely difficult topic”, Just like you would if you were planning to commence an important meeting at work. Do your best to speak in a way that is compelling but concise and has the best interest of both of you.  Mac says, “it takes courage to be honest but you can do so in a way that’s respectful”. Also, try not to ramble. Instead, state your case with clarity and the most positive energy you can muster. If their actions are unacceptable, know where your boundaries lie and clearly and calmly state them. “Then stand in your powerful silence”

Put Yourself Into Their Shoes

Pillar four calls for you to “anticipate questions and reactions” to conversations.”  Mac recommends, while you want to make sure you get your point across, ensure that you’ve taken time to put yourself into the other person’s shoes. “Life isn’t easy for anyone. But if you take time to think about and anticipate how they may feel about your topic you won’t be so quick to react emotionally and with harsh words and energy”.

By anticipating reaction you will be able become more proactive in your relationship, she says, noting that, “the person will appreciate it. Remember, effective communication in a trusted relationship takes time, thought and occasional discomfort,” says Mac.

Pillar five suggests that you “speak to serve” in your conversations.  “When you ‘serve’ the person you’re speaking with, you are taking time to make sure that the conversation is not “all about you”. It’s for the benefit of you, for them and for the greater good of the relationship.” says Mac.  “When you serve while speaking, you are making sure that understanding is taking place.  If you’re not sure that it is, you might want to say something like, “is this making sense to you?” Then listen to what they say.

Finally, Pillar six calls for you to “detach from the outcome” of the conversation.  “If you follow the first 5 Pillars you will be well on your way to becoming a highly effective communicator. But you aren’t quite there yet!” states Mac. It is very important that you don’t try to control the other person’s reaction.

“This is the pillar that’s the toughest to master”, says Mac.  That’s because we all want what we want and things to go our way.  But if you allow people to make their own decisions and progress at their own rate, you’ll be much better off.  “Plus”, says Mac, “when you remain attached to the outcome, you’re getting in the way of any ‘Higher Power’ that is at work”.  Instead of concerning yourself with what you believe is a perfect outcome, remain flexible and detached, knowing that total agreement is never possible.  Plus, it’s really unimportant.  What is important is the health and strength of your relationship and two powerful voices, even if they don’t always see eye to eye,” she adds.

Don’t Try to Change Others, Change Yourself

Mac suggests that if you want to become a more effective communicator, don’t focus on changing the other person. We have no control over other people, only ourselves. “Work on changing what you can change in your communication style. If you do so, you’ll actually become more influential”.

“These communication tips are universal and are the foundation for healthy professional AND personal relationships. The are not easy to integrate into our lives, but the more you use them, the quicker they’ll become part of who you are and how you communicate so you can build the most important element into every one of your important relationships.  And that is trust.”

Donna Mac is author of Guide to a RICHER LIFE–Know Your Worth, Find Your Voice & Speak Your Mind and The Six Pillars of Effective Communication. She is also a keynote speaker and private coach.  For more details, go to www.dmacvoice.com.

Herb Weiss, LRI’12 is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com.

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