Friday, June 20, 2008

Guidelines for expressing your feelings.

Try to be specific rather than general about how you feel. Consistently using only one or two words to say how you’re feeling, such as bad or upset, is too vague and general. What kind of bad or upset? (specify irritated, mad, anxious, afraid, hurt, lonely, etc.).

Specify the degree of the feelings, and you’ll reduce the chances of being misunderstood. For example, some people may think when you say, "I’m angry," it means you’re extremely angry when you actually mean you’re a "little irritated."

When expressing anger or irritation, first describe the specific behavior you don’t like, then your feelings. This helps to prevent the other person from becoming immediately defensive or intimidated when they first hear "I'm angry with you" so they miss the message.

If you have mixed feelings, say so, then express each feeling and explain what that feeling is about. For example: "I’ve got mixed feelings about what you just did. I’m glad and thankful that you helped me, but I didn’t like the comment about being stupid. It was disrespectful and unnecessary and I found it irritating."

Whenever you tell someone they’re wrong and you’re angry at the same time, you’ll likely make an enemy. Anytime negative emotion enters into a conversation, the conversation continues but the communication ceases.

To get better information, ask “What,” not “Why” questions.

“What” questions (“What was in your mind when you did that?”) are fact oriented.

“Why” questions (“Why did you do that?”) trigger emotional responses.

Never, ever argue. Listen instead. It’s physically impossible to say something wrong if you’re listening. And you may just learn something about the other person’s point of view. Then test and summarize – “Are you saying that this is what’s important to you?”

And last but not least, be careful of the words you use. Avoid the word “but” - it’s the great eraser: Everything said before that word is window dressing and is ignored once you’ve said it.

The word “try” (“I’ll try to get that done in time”) usually means it’s not going to happen. When someone says “try,” ask more questions. In many cases, they don’t know how to do what they’re being asked to do. They need help and they’re not planning to ask for it.

Use people’s names. You get more attention from someone when you use their name.

Using variety when speaking. Talk fast and then talk slowly.

Avoid sarcasm, condescension and negativity. It’s easy for smart people to rip others to shreds in two seconds in a clever, articulate, and funny way. “Put downs” are never appropriate in a leadership position.

Lastly, some more reminders about body language:

Putting your hands in your pockets can indicate relaxation or disinterest. It may be appropriate to put your hands in your pockets to diffuse a tense situation. If you do it when someone comes to you with an urgent problem, it can convey a lack of interest.

Keeping your hands behind your back is a “yes sir” position. It’s a submissive stance. You're giving way to the other person.

Standing shows power and exerts leadership. During a presentation or meeting, you may choose to give up your power by sitting.

Just remember, whatever you do, it’s impossible to not communicate. So try to be conscious about it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a great series and very helpful. Thank you and keep them coming.