Learning how to communicate effectively is key to building relationships with those around you. Try using these four key words to positively influence others through your understanding and acceptance.
How to Communicate Effectively With the Right Vocabulary
When you’re my age and you bring up entertainers who have been doing their thing for decades, you run the risk of dating yourself. But I think it’s safe to say even younger people are familiar with the late comedian George Carlin. He and a Pacifica radio station single-handedly changed Federal Communication Commission policies by letting us know what the seven filthiest words are in the English language.
There is no beating the comic genius of Carlin, but I can take a different track and offer some of the best words we can use to communicate effectively and powerfully, especially when you’re trying to influence someone positively. The four key words to communicate effectively are:
- I understand
Demonstrate Understanding Through Your Words
Some of this, most people know intuitively. Like, when engaging in conversation with friends or strangers alike, you want them to feel like you know where they’re coming from, even if you disagree with them. You want them to feel understood.
Hence, two of the best words we can use when communicating are: I understand.
If you can get into the habit of responding to every communication with the first two words being ‘I understand,’ generally you will disarm 80% of any negative or resistant energy right then and there. Even if you don’t understand, you say, “Can you clarify that for me just a little bit more?” It’s all about listening, yes? Make them feel heard and understood. Once you’re past that stage, work on the convincing part next.
Avoid Using Negative Language
What else have we instinctively learned about what to say? There’s something you don’t want to say after someone has shared their opinions or feelings, and that’s the dreaded ‘but’. What usually happens when you say, “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but …” The other person gets that impatient or irritated look like you just negated everything they were talking about. Even if you originally convinced them that you knew where they were coming from, now that’s gone.
The answer is as simple as replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’. “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, and here’s something else I was thinking about in addition to that.” It’s as easy as that.
Show Others You Identify With Them
Now, what’s that last ‘nice’ word? It’s something that helps us identify with others while still also distinguishing our point of view. We don’t want to make the other person feel like they’re being isolated. So instead of saying, “You have ways to go,” you say ‘we.’
“You know, sometimes we as people have a tendency to make snap judgments even though we don’t have all the facts just yet.” That’s a nice way of telling someone they’re being short-sighted or pig-headed without making them feel bad about it. This is a great tool in leadership or for anyone who displays an openness to being educated.
Your turn! The beauty of this exercise is that you don’t have to take mine or anyone’s word for it. Experiment with these four words consciously for the next week or so. Notice any differences in how people in your life react to you? Are you able to bring your perspective to others by communicating effectively? Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you! Share with us in the comments.