Principles for Successful Communication

Eric Brown on the Tier1 blog (here) has some basic advice on successful communication (here), which was prompted by a recent project debrief (Eric uses “post-mortem” which has funereal connotations, to say the least.)

I liked his three principles for listening, which is always a struggle.  After all, what I have to say is so illuminating and you were about to say it anyway…if you were right.  Thankfully for me, these principles are very simple and easy to remember:

Listening With Your Eyes
Body language communicates more than words often do. Look at your body language as well as the person you’re talking with. Also, look into the eyes of the person. Do not look at other things around you — this communicates you’re not attentive, interested, or respecting what the other person is saying.

Listening With Your Ears
Focus on what the other person is saying by giving your full attention. Don’t talk back, although some probing questions may be relevant to get clarity (it also tells the other person that you are listening).

Listening With Your Feelings
Try as best as you can to “read between the lines” of what the other person is saying. Look to understand their feelings about the topic. As Stephen Covey says, “Seek to understand before being understood.”

Eyes, ears, heart…pretty simple, if not always easy to do.  Though I must insist that we give St. Francis pride of place on the “seek to understand…” last line (here).  Not that he’d want anything to do with pride…

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