3 Ways To Improve Your Communication, Right Now!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
"Communication is a skill
that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to
work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your
Brian Tracy, personal
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Personal Commentary:
Back in the 1950's at the
University of California-Berkeley, 80 science Ph.D. students underwent a
battery of personality tests, IQ tests, and interviews to understand their
strengths and weaknesses. 40 years later, another study was taken to see
how successful those 80 professionals had become ... checking such things as
their resumes, evaluations by experts in their own fields, and sources like
"American Men and Women of Science". The research concluded
that the social and emotional abilities of these 80 scientists were four times
more important than their IQ's in establishing their professional success and
prestige. In other words, their relationship skills were more important
their mental skills.
In 1996, in a publication entitled
"Successful Intelligence," R. Sternberg indicated that your IQ
contributes about 20% to your overall success in life. The rest of your success
depends on your "emotional intelligence" or relationship skills.
My reaction? Wow!
Relationship skills are at the very core of success, and yet chances are
you had no ... that's right, NO ... classes in elementary school, middle
school, high school, college, or graduate school on "Making Relationships
Work." So it's no wonder that the number one complaint on almost
every organizational employee survey lists "communication" as the
number one problem or complaint. And it's no wonder that more than half
the personal relationships in this and many other countries fail.
I guess I shouldn't complain.
All these "relationship" and "communication" problems
make my keynote and seminar on "The Partnership Payoff: 7 Keys To
Better Relationships And Greater Teamwork" a national best seller.
Check it out or give me a call if you'd like to talk about bringing this
program to your next meeting.
Until then, there are some things
you can do to improve your personal and professional relationships right now.
1. Take an assessment of
your relationship skills.
You see ... most people believe
they are good communicators and everyone else has a problem. Well, that's
pretty silly, but that's what the research tells us.
Perhaps it's time to get honest
with yourself. I suggest you take the assessment by my colleague Arnold
Sanow. He's created what he calls the "Your Get-Along IQ."
He suggests you assess yourself and then have some other team members
take the same assessment on you. The results can be eye-opening.
Go ahead and do it right now.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 on the statements below:
1 = Never
2 = Almost never
3 = Sometimes
4 = Almost always
5 = Always
How often do you ...
- Listen to
others attentively, even when you disagree?
- Boost good
feelings in others?
- Project a
- Express a
positive attitude even when it's difficult?
- Give people
credit for their ideas?
conflicts with diplomacy?
- Treat others
with respect even when you find it challenging to do so?
differences of opinion and keep an open mind?
- Act as a
catalyst to help others get what they want?
- Accept responsibility
for a mistake you've contributed to or caused?
- Adapt how
you communicate in order to be most effective in relating to the needs of
- Seek to
understand how others see a situation?
ample opportunity for people to air their grievances or concerns?
feedback tactfully and receive it willingly?
- Work to find
the best possible solutions for all parties involved when disputes arise?
- Model the
same behaviors you want others to express?
- Master your
emotions when angry or frustrated?
- Seek to
respond to what others want or need?
- Create a
sense of safety and openness?
- Keep current
as to what's important and valued by others in every arena of your life?
- Act in ways
that make people feel valued?
- Drop any
need to be right?
- Let go of
- Keep your
commitments or promises?
respect in everything you say and do?
To score yourself, add up your
points. And to interpret your scores, Sanow says, if you have a score of:
110-125: You're a Get-Along
90-109: You're using some
excellent connection strategies, but you're missing some important connecting
76-89: Being responsive to
others is music to their ears! Explore more ways to connect to what others
want, need or value.
75-25: Pump up your Get-Along
power! You may find yourself often frustrated from misunderstandings,
disappointments and missed connection opportunities.
If you don't like the score you
give yourself or others give you, admit it. Get honest with yourself.
You've got some work to do. And start doing it.
2. Communicate with others
in the way THEY would like you to communicate.
As illogical as it may seem,
everybody thinks and feels ... at some level ... like he or she is the most
important person in any interaction. And when you put two people together
who both think they are the most important person in the interaction, you've
got a perfect set up for miscommunication and relationship problems.
So what's the answer? Put
the other person ... your coworker, customer, or family member ... at the
center of the interaction. Think before you speak. Think about the
other person and how THEY would like you to communicate with them.
Directly, to the point, in generalities or specifics, with facts or
illustrations, or whatever. Adjust your normal, no-thought approach to
sharing your ideas to fit with the way the other person is most likely to
understand and even accept your point of view.
And please, don't ever say,
"I just say it the way I see it. Take it or leave it. If they don't
like it, that's their problem." No it isn't. It's your
problem. If you take that approach, you are NOT emotionally intelligent;
you are emotionally ignorant at best. And chances are, your relationships
will not be as good as they could be.
Finally, for today's purposes,
before you book my program on "The Partnership Payoff" or attend my
"Journey to the Extraordinary" program, it never hurts to...
3. Add a spiritual
foundation to your relationships.
Now don't get all bent out of
shape when I use the word "spiritual." I know it's not
politically correct to ever mention the word "spiritual." But
I'm not talking about a particular religion or trying to convert you to
anything. I'm simply saying there's power in the "spiritual" or
"faith" dimension of life that you may not be tapping into.
That became obvious to me when I
was speaking at Abbott Laboratories, one of the oldest and finest
pharmaceutical companies around. They gave me a copy of their "Technology
Futures Report." In it, they quoted "Psychosomatic Medicine
1995," saying, "A study of 232 patients at Dartmouth Medical School
found that elderly heart patients were 14 times less likely to die following
surgery if they found strength and comfort in their religious FAITH."
If you don't know where to start
with this "spiritual stuff" and how to add it to your relationships,
try this prayer ... a "Prayer For Spiritual Partnership" by the
"Lord, help me
to see my beloved as you do.
Help me to look with
eyes of grace and hear with
Please give us your
wisdom to see our life
together from the wide perspective of heaven instead of from our
small lens smeared by petty grievances and
Help us to join in
partnership with you and your goals for our lives so we can be part of
your plan of love for this world.
Help us to be a team
that encourages our family and those we meet and
work with every day.
Help us be part of
our solution for every life we touch.
And help us to touch
each other’s life with the same care
you would use.
As long as you live, you will be
communicating with lots of other people. And to a large extent, the degree of
success you achieve will be determined by the quality of your communication.
Don't settle for the communication skills you have now, thinking they're
good enough. Strive to improve your communication, and in so doing you
will improve your relationships and the very quality of your life.
What is your "Get-Along" score? What are two
things you can and will do to improve your score?
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About the author:
As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional
speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on "transforming the people side of
business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted for high content, high energy,
and high involvement that transform people's lives and the companies where they
To learn more about his programs and products, or to
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Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's
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