At LifeSmart, the topic of communication has been on our mind a lot. With students entering a new grade or environment, and summer vacations replaced with non-stop schedules, it’s easy to see how this can affect our communications—in a negative way. Add to that the news media hype (in their quest for ratings), a supercharged political climate, and promptings from our social media outlets, and we have a recipe for fireworks and communication breakdowns. It’s everywhere.
Effective communication is a two-way street. When we’re the initiator, miscommunication usually happens in the following ways:
- We say things that were better left unsaid, like the common “self-control failure,” or comments that are simply unkind.
- We choose the wrong words. Our rhetoric incites rather than shares.
- We say it the wrong way. Our tone turns off and shuts down the conversation.
- We use the wrong method (text or email versus verbal or in-person).
- Or, worse yet, we use a combination of the above!
On the other hand, when we’re the receiver, we don’t always listen to understand. When we don’t see “eye to eye,” we can shut down or shout down instead of respectfully agreeing to disagree and letting it be. It’s next to impossible to compromise and reach solutions this way.
What to do? How can we increase the chances that our communications are productive, constructive, and worthy? One solution is to embed the following four words into our internal communication filter before we initiate or respond:
HOW IS THIS HELPFUL?
How might this look on a practical basis? The following table can serve as a guide:
Good will Acrimony
If we all committed to the above, it would change the world. We’d achieve more understanding, respect, harmony, joy, and kindness, and even make better decisions.
So, let’s try taking these four words to heart and mind, and see how this changes us and how we relate to others. It’s a great goal for a new school year.