So you have waited all day to tell your mate something you are excited about and, just as you get to the important part, he tunes out and looks at his cellphone and begins to reply to a text.
Or how about the girlfriend who constantly interrupts you during your telephone conversations and it seems you can never complete your thoughts.
In these moments, we may not feel heard -- or even cared about. While it surely happens to all of us at some point, we are all guilty of doing it.
It is no secret that good communication is key to good relationships. Whether the relationship is personal or professional, communicating with people you care about is an art, kind of like dancing the Tango. Good communication takes practice and effort, but once you know the secret to great communication, you can have better, deeper and more meaningful connections.
When we have too much "noise" or conflict in a relationship, that most likely means communication breakdown, or at least a strain or tension. Contrary to the old adage, communication may not be everything in a relationship, and a relationship may need more than just a communication fix. Though when people feel heard and cared about, they respond accordingly.
The secret to great communication is simple -- so simple it is easy to overlook.
What is the secret?
Get clear on what is most important to the person in the relationship and link it to what is most important to you. This is called "linking of values."
When you link your values, you now have common ground and something that is important to both of you.
For example, let's say you have to go on yet another business trip but your spouse wants you home because she says you don't spend enough time together, since you are both busy with your respective businesses. She is upset at you because she is now feeling you don't care much about the relationship -- or her -- and that your business is more important to you.
Looking at this closely, she has a high value in her relationship with you. While you, too, value the relationship, otherwise you wouldn't be in it, your highest priority at this moment is securing that big business deal you are going to be doing on this upcoming trip, so you can invest in your business.
So help her understand how your trip will enable the two of you to spend more quality time together upon your return, since that is most important to her, and how you both will get what you would love and deserve by you taking this trip. For instance, perhaps it will enable you to buy a new house, or take a romantic vacation together.
Once we learn how to do this dance, our communication gets clearer and our relationships will get stronger.
What is your secret to great communication? I'd love to hear from you. Tweet to me at @Shannon_Skinner or leave a comment below.
Shannon Skinner is an award-winning producer/host of ExtrarodinaryWomenTV.com, radio host, inspirational speaker and author, based in Toronto. For information on her speaking engagements, visit: ShannonSkinner.com. Tweet to her at @Shannon_Skinner.
This blog originally was published on ShannonSkinner.com
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"Whether you are passing someone in the hall, entering a meeting room, or greeting a friend at dinner, say the other person's name. Instead of merely saying 'Good morning,' say 'Good morning, Bill.' It makes the other person feel important, and we all want that," advises leadership and communications expert Alan Zimmerman.
"Successful people grab lunch with friends and colleagues. As career coach Anita Attridge tells 'Forbes' magazine, 'Lunch is an excellent time to continue to build relationships and network with others.' Once again it tells the other person that he or she is important because you are making time for them," says Zimmerman.
"Everybody is busy these days, and many people are crazy busy. So if you ask for 10 minutes of someone's time for a brief conversation, stick to your agreement. Don't go past your 10 minutes unless the other person gives you permission to go on. That way the other person will look forward to talking to you rather than dreading it."
What people don't say is often as important as what they say, says Zimmerman. "Look for signs that may indicate the person is losing interest or becoming impatient, and adjust your conversation to be more sensitive to his or her needs, expectations or time constraints."
"Knowing all about the Kardashians, who is in the finals of "Dancing With The Stars," and what NFL player is in trouble now will not help you get ahead in your professional networks. Consume your actual real-world news in whatever form you choose, and be familiar and conversant in local, national and international politics and events," advises Zimmerman.
"In the book 'You Can't Do It Alone: Building Relationships for Career Success,' Glass and Brody say, 'Mirror the personality and behavioural style of the person with whom you are meeting.' In other words, does he or she want the big picture or the details? Does he or she speak quickly or slowly? Does the person want to spend more time on small talk or get right down to business? Honour the other person's preferences if at all possible," says Zimmerman.
You want to get a little philosophical about your relationships too. "As human relations expert Anthony Robbins points out, 'Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they're trying to find someone who's going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take,'" says Zimmerman.
Put your gratitude into a physical product, says Zimmerman. "If you've arranged a special meeting with someone, follow up that meeting with a thank-you note. Send a handwritten note thanking the person for taking the time to meet with you. Send greeting cards ... birthday, holiday, congratulations, and sympathy cards. Very few people practice this so-called "common courtesy" anymore, so your note automatically puts you in the top tier of thoughtful, appreciative, professional people."
"If it's been a while since you've spoken to the other person, ask, “What's new?” and be genuinely interested in his or her answer. Notice items displayed in their offices; ask about their weekend. Learn about his or her hobbies and interests and ask about them. Most people appreciate being the centre of your attention," Zimmerman notes.
"Learn about the problems and issues the other person has to deal with. Find solutions. When you learn the other person needs a service, offer to connect the person to your resources (i.e. travel agents, nanny service, etc.). It may be as simple as saying, 'I heard you say that you are looking for a new personal accountant. I’m really happy with the person I’m using. Would you like me to connect the two of you?' Or offer to drive the other person to a meeting you are both attending," Zimmerman says.
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