The 29 Most Crucial Lessons I've Learned About Communication In The Last 3 Decades
Dec 30, 2020
The end of the year is always a good possibility to reflect & review. I went a bit further back - not just one year, which in all fairness also has to do with the fact that I put together a course about this immensely important topic.
Communication is complex and I keep learning, understanding and feeling what holds us together as human beings, what creates the glue and which is the basis for connection and collaboration.
So here's what I found in the last decades, condensed in 29 points. I hope that serves you.
- The quality of our conversations/communication determines the quality of ALL of our relationships. Regardless of how much I twisted and turned this - this is always true. Professionally as well as personally.
- REAL listening is a huge part of successful communication. And among the top 3 competencies, I have identified. The bad news: doing it right is so much harder than I ever thought. Particularly when someone says something that rubs me the wrong way! The good news: Everyone can learn it.
- It's often the small words that have a large effect in communication - not just the big ones. I learned that there is a whole list of them - they are sneaky, and we all use them regularly without knowing how much havoc they often create. So far I've counted at least 10. Sounds like not a lot? Yep, that's what I thought before shifting them, which changed my conversations, my beliefs & my relationships on all levels.
- Communication starts with me - the infamous self-talk- and is the most crucial part of our overall communication. Why? Cause it elicits emotions within us, which determine how we communicate with others. Btw, if you think you're not and talking to yourself, you're utterly wrong. Or when was the last time your head was utterly devoid of any thought? Yep, thought so.
- If I connect with others, not just on a mind, but the heart and even soul level, communication becomes MUCH easier. The trick was to learn how to connect with me first.
- Communication is so much more than exchanging information or facts - conversations impact how we connect (or if at all), engage or interact with each other, influence others (and ourselves) and shape our reality and outcomes. In other words: it's a bloody central topic, and we could all benefit if we were taught as kids how to communicate properly.
- There are different levels of communication and conversations - and the better we know them, the better the outcome: Transactional, positional and transformational. If this is confused it results in not getting the desired results, more to the point in frustration lost time and hurt feelings. So, worth diving in deeper.
- The better I know myself, my values & my vision…all together resulting in clarity, the better and clearer my communication with others get. The clearer my communication, the fewer misunderstandings. Simple, but not easy.
- Between Intention and impact in communication can be a large gap - this is where things can go pear shape quickly.
- The meaning in conversations always lies with the one who listens and NOT the speaker. What an epiphany for me!!!
- There is a whole lot going on in the body chemistry during conversations....knowing WHAT shifts the whole understanding of how to communicate. One important example: When I'm stressed, my reptile brain takes over, cortisol floods my body and blocks my executive brain…and I can't think straight anymore, nor can you. That's when communication goes wrong quickly.
- Most communication triggers emotions - and they are great messengers to learn more about ….myself. The good news: I can shift the emotion (if I don't like it) and so can you.
- One of my super-powers in communication is that I'm in control of my response to what someone else says - I can never blame it on anyone else in the communication….that's not a free ticket to behave like arseholes or be rude though. The tougher part was to learn how to put it into practice.
- My communication style is something I have established and trained. And I have the power and possibility to change it ANYTIME if I don't like it. I did so several times until it felt it was really me talking. Authentically.
- Most people are addicted to being right, as it feels SOOO good. The reason: our hormonal system. The good news: we can influence it. The bad news: insisting on being right hardly ever results in a great conversation.
- Communication can harm or heal, build trust or destroy it within seconds.
- Most conversations are about understanding and being understood - not about winning or losing…even if it feels like that. After all, we all want to be heard, seen and belong.
- Others think and perceive things very differently - hence they will have a different understanding and view of a situation which might be crystal clear for us, but not for them. So, what we all communicate is our reality which might not have a lot in common with the reality of others.
- The most detrimental conversations for any relationship are the ones we're NOT having.
- It takes a ton of courage to have difficult conversations - and the rewards are massive.
- Our actions always speak louder than any words ever could.
- Sometimes it's the best thing to be the last person in a room to speak…. when I listen - I learn a lot. When I talk I don't.
- We're all using the same words, but often talk about completely different things as we attach different meanings to them.
- The more I train my self-awareness and observe how I communicate, the better my chances of finding my patterns. The ones that serve me, and the ones that don't. And boy - I found a lot of the latter!! (and keep finding them).
- We all have words or phrases that trigger strong emotional responses…the better I know them, the better I can influence or determine my response and even shift my emotions. Almost a bit like magic.
- Feelings are a natural part of communication - if neglected or pushed away, communication is doomed.
- Curiosity, care, compassion, courage and questions are the best and most effective "tools" in conversation I know.
- Communication is complex and simple at the same time. The art is to know how and when to keep it simple, and when to dive into complex details.
- Humour brings laughter and lightness in any conversation. Really ANY - without exception….took me a while to learn it (and still practising).
Anything you'd like to add?
If you're keen on diving deeper into this topic, I'll invite you to join us in the brand-new course "Communicate to Connect" (starting in January).