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3 Communication Tips for Building Stronger Relationships

Posted Apr 11 2010 10:34pm

Communication Tips

This guest post was written by Karl Staib, author of Work Happy Now!

Last week I was talking on the phone with my brother, and even though we live 2,000 miles away from each other, he could still feel my sour attitude.  He asked me if everything was okay.  I was a bit surprised because I thought I was covering up my mood quite well.

I brushed off his question and told him I was fine.  He wasn’t buying it and the rest of our phone conversation struggled along.

People can feel the real message you are sending, whether you are talking to them on the phone, in person, or online.

I’m convinced most people can smell fear and bull crap.  If you try to cover it up, they may be fooled at first, but eventually they catch on.

My subconscious usually picks up on whether or not people are sincere.  If someone is being insincere, I can feel this and I begin looking for validation.  Even if it’s just a split second feeling, I will be on the hunt to make sure I’m right.  My attention is distracted and I have trouble taking the person seriously.  That’s why as communicators (writing, speaking or body language), we have to believe that our audience is smart, savvy and ready to find faults in our message.  This also goes for an audience of just one.  It’s a problem that’s easily solved as long as you remain true to yourself.

If you believe in your message then other people will trust you.  This isn’t always easy, so I’ve devised three questions that I ask myself before I talk or write anything to anyone.

Rules for Communication:

  1. Am I telling a story?  (People connect to a story, not just facts.)
  2. Do I really believe this to be true?  (When communicating, we need to believe in everything we say.)
  3. Is this valuable?  (Will the other person find humor or knowledge in the message?)

When I first started on Twitter, I was prone to just retweeting (sending out someone else’s tweet) anything that seemed cool.  There were times when I did not even take the time to check out the source.  So wrong on many levels. One time I retweeted a link then clicked on it and it took me to a jacked-up site that gave no value at all.  It actually had animated flying pigs on it.  And they weren’t even artistic.  Just a bunch of ugly pink pigs.

The bottom line is you have to concentrate on sending out the right message to other people, otherwise you won’t be creating a likable personal brand that separates you from the wannabes.  In this day and age of social media we all need to manage our personal brands.  Future employers will be Googling your name to see if you’re communicating certain messages online that don’t mesh well with their corporate culture.

You may not be trying to be an Internet superstar, but surely you’re trying to be the best communicator you can be.  Because if you can’t get your ideas across clearly and with conviction, no one will ever listen to you.

We live in the greatest era for communication – a time when we can create our own brand and package it in a way that makes us happy.  Twenty years ago we were stuck with the channels of communication that big business gave us.  Of course we could put out a printed newsletter or ‘zine, but it was costly and its reach was limited.  Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites make it so much easier to spread our message and our brand.

You now have the ability to create your own happiness through communication of your expertise.

I write about work happiness and right now there are more people working happy than ever before because they are able to express their true selves while they work.  People like Brian Clark , Sonia Simone , and Leo Babauta (Check out Leo’s story – it’s fascinating) have communicated from their heart and now they have a dedicated following.  They did this by believing so strongly in their message that nothing could hold them back from success.

The key is knowing who you are and figuring out how to maximize your thoughts through communication.

How do you optimize your ability to communicate well?

It’s not easy, but worth your time to practice it.

Always remember the three words - Story, Heart, and Value.

Make sure you tell a story that helps people connect to a specific concept.  Even the people who gossip about others know this because usually you are already intrigued by the person they are talking about.  That’s why it’s hard not to listen.  By sharing something about a person whom you already know, you can become more connected.

Gossiping is wrong if it’s done to tear someone down, but gossip can also be positive. (i.e. a mother sharing a story about her daughter’s relationship with a friend or a manager sharing a story with her employee about another co-worker’s accomplishment in order to motivate her.) This type of communication can help us get through a tough time or find a solution to a problem.

Before you say something, always check in with yourself for a half second to see if it’s really what you believe.  Do this again and again and again.  The time you take to develop this awareness, the more comfortable you will be with communicating to individuals and crowds.

You probably think you do this, but do you really listen?  The difference between a writer who makes it and a writer who is always trying rests in their passion for the truth.  You can’t believe what you want to believe because it’s easier.  You have to communicate straight from your heart… and that takes guts.

Does this information help the person in some way?  When telling a story, try to think of it as an opportunity to teach.  I’m not talking about ‘after school special’ lameness.  I’m talking about opening a person’s eyes to new perspectives or motivating them to try something new.

When you communicate with the people in your life, you are setting the tone for future interaction.  If you create positive feelings then they will want more stories from you and more time with you.  If all you do is regurgitate other peoples thoughts and ideas, but don’t check in with your soul first, eventually the people around you will notice and stop caring.

You have to choose communication that will build stronger, healthier relationships.

How are you improving your ability to connect to your true self so you can communicate your message effectively?  Are you communicating from the deep depths of your heart?  If so, let us know in the comment section.

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy on his blog: Work Happy Now!   If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed , follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles, Creating A Project Ritual to Encourage Happiness .

Photo by: Scott Beale


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