My new job has forced me to rethink how I communicate- my polite, non-confrontational style doesn't work in every situation the way I want it to. Tough love doesn't come to me naturally and I am more aware than ever of the way I like to converse with people. My 'rules' of communication are almost exactly the same as the rules of Improv Comedy. I remember learning the following guidelines in high school drama class, and it's always stuck with me:
1. Always agree and respect what your partner has created
2. Always say "Yes, and.."
3. Make statements, not just questions
4. Think of everything as an opportunity
This could not explain my communication style any better. First off, I always make a point of agreeing with someone and showing that I appreciate their perspective before anything else. This is good when meeting new people, trying to gain trust and show respect. This is not good when I actually don't agree with someone or need to be more assertive.
Secondly, I value adding my own words to someone's opinion to show even more that I appreciate their perspective and respect their voice. Rather than just saying yes all the time, it is important to add my own voice to the conversation. Then it feels like we are collaborating and both trying to get somewhere.
The third rule is also important, because if I am constantly asking a client or friend questions then it feels like I am interrogating them and the conversation is one sided. But if I add my own personal statements then it gives the other person a chance to ask me something as well.
Lastly, and very importantly I hope to be the kind of person who views every interaction as an opportunity. I can either build a person up through conversation or intimidate them with my words. Honestly, I will likely never change the foundation of my communication style as it works for me most of the time. However I am so conscious right now that this style does not always benefit me. I am always trying to be polite and gracious so sometimes I come across in professional settings like I don't have an opinion or that I can't stand my ground. I also get caught being too sensitive when a more assertive approach would be more effective. Here's to learning how to communicate more effectively!!