Who is going to change the dance steps?
Fine-tuning communication skills and habits
Word choice, good questions, and good listening skills and habits contribute to effective communication. We disagree better when we fine-tune communication habits, aligning our words and our listening with the kinds of intentions and attitudes that pave the way for progress.
Ting is the Chinese character for “to listen.” It reminds us of some of the most important components of good listening. Here’s a PDF download of the character.
How we frame matters. How we frame our offer, our doubt, our idea, our concern can make the difference between being heard and being ignored, between interest and aversion, between succeeding and stumbling.
When we’re truly listening we have to anticipate that we might become changed by what we heard, says acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, founder of The One Square Inch of Silence Foundation based in Joyce, Washington.
Over the years many readers of this blog have shared with me their favorite conflict resolution videos, particularly the funny ones that teach a good, brief lesson at the same time. Here’s one that demonstrates the difference between an artificial apology and a real one.
We had just arrived in San Francisco and were driving toward the Golden Gate Bridge, heading along the coast and then to the beach for a stroll on that gorgeous, warm January day. It came up that I had never seen the city of San Francisco.
One of my friends said, “Oh! We have to detour and take you in to see the city!”
It was a lovely gesture, to detour on my behalf. “That’s ok,” I replied, “I’m happy to skip the city and go on to Stinson Beach for a walk.”
Going into a difficult conversation with a little forethought is wise indeed. Being curious and figuring out in advance what you want to understand better is also wise. But don’t become so wedded to your list of questions that they get in your way. There is a better way to ask good questions.
3 types of good questions.
Are you a virgin? asked Sugar. It was my first day of fifth grade at a new school near Philadelphia. I’ve never forgotten Sugar’s name because I had never met a Sugar before and because she was very, very hip…long straight blonde hair parted in the middle, a beaded headband, bell bottom jeans and a […]
My husband and I have shorthand for communicating about how my day went when I walk through the door in the evening. Since my work is confidential, there’s virtually nothing I can tell him about my day with clients. So he asks, “Is it a wine night? Or…a whiskey night?” Most of the time the […]
I overheard this conversation recently at a dog agility trial: Woman 1: My dog has stopped liking jumps. So I’ve started rewarding again after every jump when we’re training. Woman 2: You should try tossing a ball to the dog after he goes over the jump. Woman 1: Well, my dog’s not really one who […]
When he was 15 years old, audio engineering pioneer Bob Heil learned how to tune pipe organs. What he learned then about listening led to a client list that reads like the Who’s Who of 60’s and 70’s rock and roll…The Who. The Grateful Dead. Jeff Beck. Joe Walsh. Peter Frampton. I heard Heil interviewed […]
If your leadership or management work places you in the role of “insider” mediator, or if you’re a professional mediator working in organizational settings, here are seven questions to ask yourself when you’re in the mediator’s chair: 1. Are you all solving the right problem? 2. Are you imagining the future together or getting stuck […]
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen, Anthem Forget your perfect offering. In conflict and conflict resolution your perfect offering gets in the way. It gets in the way if you’re so worried about saying exactly […]
Our evening news recently carried a story about a man who held utility line workers by gunpoint, angry that his power hadn’t been restored yet and demanding they do it immediately. My husband and I listened to the story on our battery-operated radio, in what was our 8th New Hampshire day without power or phone […]
Change the dance.
Effective questions are as much about attitude as they are about word choice. Even poorly phrased questions can be reprieved when asked from an attitude of curiosity and interest instead of an attitude of judgment or doubt.
Wait…how could my home be missing?
What if George Carlin had been a mediator instead of a comedian?
It’s funny how frequently people introduce me as an anger management specialist. It used to puzzle me, because I didn’t think of myself that way. But I get it now: When I help you express disagreement and negotiate more effectively, I’m also helping you manage your emotional state better. Here, then, are my three simplest […]