On Communication

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Reduce conflict with these four ‘agreements’

There are a tonne of great books that will help you to improve your communication. I’ve read a lot of them.

So far, there is *one book that trumps them all*, and that’s because it’s not about the tactics. It’s about getting to the root of why you behave the way you do.

It’s called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. My Mum gifted it to me around about the time when my brother Colin died (about 15 years ago). I’ve read it a dozen or more times. And I’ll read it agin this year.

The Four Agreements will challenge everything you don’t know about why you behave, act and respond to the people around you. It will expose the ‘agreements’ that you didn’t know you had already made with yourself, and give you four new and better ones:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Every single fight, conflict or bad experience I’ve ever had happened because one or more of these agreements were pushed to the side.

Think about The Four Agreements as an operating system that will help you put all those great communication tactics to better use.

This book is too important to ignore.

If you haven’t read it, go get it.

If you have read it already, maybe it’s time to pick it up again 🙂


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Help others while helping yourself

I ask a lot of questions, and occasionally people will ask me where these questions come from.

What I’ve found to be true is that if I’m working through something myself, there’s a really good chance that other people have the need to work on that thing too.

And so, I turn my personal challenges into questions.

Here are a few incisive questions I’ve been asking recently:

  1. Why does your work matter?
  2. What excites you the most about your work?
  3. How does your work help you to feel fulfilled?
  4. In what ways does your work inspire you to do your best work?

These questions have opened up some incredible conversations with individuals and teams, and have not only helped me to learn more about the people I’m working with, but others are learning things about themselves and their teammates that they weren’t aware of before.

The added bonus is that these conversations help me to get more clear on the answers I’m looking for, too. I can help others while also helping myself.

That’s the power of great questions combined with genuine curiosity.

Over to you:

  1. What are you struggling with or working on right now?
  2. Is it possible turn that into a question?
  3. Can you see how you can help others, and help yourself at the same time?

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Why we can’t communicate…

This is why we can’t communicate effectively with each other anymore:

  1. For me to be right, you have to be wrong
  2. How your words impact my feelings is more compelling than your good intentions
  3. It’s safer for me to speak my ‘unfiltered truth’ online with you rather than face-to-face
  4. My experience is more valid than yours
  5. I much prefer spending all my time with people that agree with me
  6. I secretly disclose our disagreements with my people instead of creating a dialogue with you privately and directly
  7. In order to be heard I must be louder and more aggressive than you
  8. I need you to hear and understand my perspective
  9. I’m here to change your mind, not for you to change mine
  10. We have to agree on everything if we want to get along with each other

As human beings we all want to be seen, heard and understood, and to make that happen we have to:

Help people to feel seen, by
listening deeply to what they are trying to say, by
being curious and compassionate enough to understand the world from their perspective.

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The problem with communication today…

The more self-aware I become about my own communication, the more aware I become of how much work there is to be done.

The work is never done.

I truly believe that the one factor that changes communication is true empathy; being able to see what they see and feel what they feel.

Most people don’t have the ability to communicate effectively because they are too preoccupied with protecting their own ego.

The result is emotional unavailability and in turn zero chance of a meaningful conversation and connection taking place.

Unfortunately, most people are going through their life not only blind to this, but blame others for the problems that happen because of poor communication.

If we want more meaningful relationships and conversations, it’s up to each one us to improve the way we communicate; work on and improve how we listen, the words we use and the questions we ask.