To create dynamic relationships, whether personal or professional, you must first understand the importance of clear communication and build skills in this area.
1. Listen: respect others' right to complete their thoughts before you interrupt to say what you want to say.
2. Take notes while listening so as not to lose track of your thoughts.
3. Opinions are valuable; however, know the difference between thinking you know something and actually knowing it. And remember that an opinion doesn't equal a fact.
4. Understand the importance of recognizing that just because you think you know what you're talking about doesn't nessessarily make it so, and if you recognize your point of view is flawed, apologize and let the conversation continue. Being right is never as important as recognizing when we're wrong; learn and grow, to argue a weak flawed observation only hinders any chance of orchestrating a meaningful conversation. Suck it up - it's ok to be wrong.
5. Recognize others' contributions and points of view by nodding and verbalizing that you've heard them and can see their point. Be specific when offering contructive criticsm by giving examples that make sense.
6. Stay focused; unless we narrow the parameters of a subject, our points are seldom recognized and appreciated as required elements of a broader understanding of the subject matter.
7. Always thank each participant in a group for their contributions, be they right or wrong, and your group will flourish and grow.
8. Be a leader and exercise humility, because too much strength and dominance leads to weakness.
9. Keep the conversation on track; it's okay to let people ramble a little, but unless we stay on topic, the chances of resolving or tying up a group conversation are minimized.
• Outline the subject or question that the group is attemping answer.
• If you give each participant an opportunity to voice her or his opinion during a discussion, it can eliminate intrusions.
• Suggest that each participant take notes; it's the group's responsibility to know every participant has agreed or disagreed to a question or possible solution before going on. This also keeps everyone involved because they know that unless they're carrying their own weight and paying attention, their opinions may be overlooked. This can create individual dissatisfaction, but they'll also know it's no one's fault but their own.
• Whenever possible, share or provide examples or definitions concerning successful solutions implemented by others in similiar situations. This can help the whole group by giving them a starting point.
• Defending a poorly thought-out solution can only lead to disaster. People tend to lose trust in those who are constantly having to say they're sorry about being wrong, and you'll waste valuable time in trying to convince people of something when they know you're trying to force them to agree with you just to satisfy your ego.
• No one individual is more important than another in your group, so be sure everyone's heard. Be gracious and listen; you just might learn something, or see another way of looking at the same problem. Not only will it broaden your horizons, it will strengthen the group.
• It's important to understand that certain situations demand specific styles of communication, so experiment and pay attention to what works best for you. Remember, no one is perfect, and ego just shows immaturity; humility and good listening practices build leadership and respect.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Communication Skills. The Official Guide to Communication Skills is Meryl Runion. Meryl Runion, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional and the author of four books on communication. Her books have sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. She is the author of a weekly email newsletter called A PowerPhrase a Week, which boast thousands of subscribers. Her clients include IBM, who find her to be systematic, the IRS who particularly love her in April, and the FBI, who find her to be a person of interest.
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