The Power of Communication

“To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.” – John Marshall

Communication is the most powerful tool we have to resolve our issues. It is also one of the easiest tools to misuse.

We’ve all learned over the years the importance of listening in the communication cycle but we still fall lax at times and don’t give it the attention it deserves.

Think about what you’re trying to accomplish when you listen.

• Data gathering
o The facts
o The problem/conflict
o The speaker’s interests
o The speaker’s proposed solution

• Demonstrate respect for the speaker

• Deal with emotional challenges in the conflict
Keep in mind the different forms of listening.
Passive listening is receiving the message but giving no feedback to the sender about what you’re hearing.

Acknowledgment contains the occasional nod of the head and “interesting” which the sender may take as agreement instead of simple acknowledgment.

Active listening is when the receiver restates in his own words what is being said and asks questions for clarification.

When trying to get at the root of the issue and find ways to resolve it use some active listening techniques like reframing, paraphrasing, and mirroring.

• Reframing – this is not just repeating back what they said, it is altering the wording in such a way that the general idea of the message is communicated but the feeling is altered. This is used when the original message contains negative remarks that may hinder the communication from proceeding. By reframing the information, you are taking some of the negativity out and putting it in a more neutral frame. It also helps the sender to gain objectivity so they are open to new ideas to help resolve the situation.

• Paraphrasing – repeating, in your own words, the message of the sender. Your message will have the same substance and emotions as the original message. This technique is good to demonstrate understanding, clarify and get the speaker to continue talking.
• Mirroring – restate the message using the speaker’s exact words. This is useful where trust levels are low and speakers are concerned that their point of view is not being heard.

Communication is the basis for all negotiations. The more skill you have in really listening and helping people identify the true issues, the more help you will be.