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Apr032016

FOUR WAYS TO HUMANIZE YOUR COMMUNICATING: # 2

In scenes like this, Pope Francis consistently shows what it's like to make your communicating as personal as possible.  He obviously knows he's a "something" (The Pope), a public figure and cultural icon,who unavoidably gets stereotyped and objectified by both detractors and supporters.  AND he works to be present to the individuals around him, and to connect with them as persons, not just prisoners, disfigured people, or even other cultural icons.

Like Francis, you can humanize your communicating not by wearing your heart on your sleeve or prying into someone's private life but by working to make it as personal as possible by Taking In (notice, attend to, listen for) and Giving Out (express, share, talk about) four parts of you that help make you a person:  your Choices, Un-measurable parts, Reflections, and Mindfulness  (See John Stewart, U&ME: Communicating in Moments that Matter, Chapter 2.)

#1 in this series was a reminder that all of us are "taking in" and "giving out" communication cues all the time, and it pointed to the importance of taking in and giving out Choices.  You can do Taking in by managing the expectations that guide your listening and all the nonverbal and verbal ways you listen for, and encourage the other person to talk about her choices.  The second step is to topic choice, nonverbal, and verbal cues to put on the table some of your own choices--your priorities, preferences, decisions about what's most important.

Step #2 is to get un-measurable elements on the table by Taking In and Giving Out relevant aspects of them.  Much of who you are can be measured--your height, weight, blood pressure, cholestrol level, heart rate, body temperature, etc.  AND there are important parts of what make you a person that can't be directly measured.  I group these into what I call ESP--not "extrasensory perception," but Emotions-Spirit-Personality.

It's obviously possible to measure indicators of feelings--heart rate, respiration, etc.--but the measurements don't capture anything close to what we experience when, for example, we greet somebody we really dislike.  The same is true of personality.  Scores of tests produce personality lables--"introvert/extravert" for example--and they fall way short of capturing the experience of being that "kind of person."

The third term--"Spirit"-- refers to the part of a human that is neither body nor mind, sometimes the divine part.  Spirit is important for some people and not for others.  I include it for people who notice the spiritual features of themselves and others.  Whether you're in this group or not, just think of ESP as the un-measurable parts of yourself and others.

Emotions are the most obvious of the three.  We've known for years that there is no such thing as thinking without feeling.  https://www.16personalities.com/articles/nature-thinking-vs-feeling  This doesn't mean that people are always wildly joyful or painfully anguished, but that, unless we suffer from depersonalization disorder, some emotion always accompanies our thinking.  When relevant and appropriate feelings are on the table between communicators, their contact is more human, more personal.

Emotions often get talked about by intimates--"I feel betrayed by your talking behind my back," "I'm relieved that he made it back," or "I love you."  Emotions can also humanize on-the-job communicatiing--"I'm really afraid we can't meet this deadline," "Sounds like you're really uncomfortable working with her," or "We really nailed that presentation!" Relevant emotions can be on the table in any communication situation. 

You can Take In ESP, first, by expecting it to be there, and then by nonverbally and verbally encouraging your conversation partner to put relevant parts on the table between you.  Nonverbally, get yourself near enough to encourage candid talk.  Maintain appropriate eye contact.  Avoid interrupting and be silent enough to give the other person opportunities to talk.  Smile when it's appropriate.  Verbally, ask open questions.  Whenever there's a misunderstanding, ask "What do you want to have happen?" and then listen carefully to the response.  In some cases it can help to be direct: "How do you really feel about this?"  "You were frustrated about this the last time we talked; how are you feeling now?"  "Deep down, what do you believe is the right thing to do?"

You can Give Out ESP in three ways, too. The first is topical.  Prioritize un-measurables as a topic.  "Everybody doesn't feel the way we do about this, and we've got to pay attention to their differences."  "I think we're uncomfortably pushing the quieter people in the group, like Elesha." "We're asking for a level of enthusiasm that I'm not sure exists yet."  In addition, you can use both words and nonverbal cues to get ESP on the table.  

One verbal way is with I-statements.  They consist simply of "I," a present-tense verb, and a concrete specific.  "I feel uncomfortable about the decision we just made."  "I'm glad we worked this trough."  "I'm not the kind of person who can just walk away from this."

Nonverbally, you can Give Out ESP with the help of all the cues that communicate directness--eye contact, appropriate head-nods and other movements, appropriately close space, a smile, open rather than closed posture. It doesn't help to "put all this on" like a performance.  People can easily spot inauthenticity.  Work for congruence or fit among what you say, who you are, and what you do (that is, your saying-being-doing).

All four ways of humanizing yur communicating involve Taking In and Giving Out aspects of what make you the person you are.  Choices and Emotions-Spirit-Personality are the first two.  I'll explain Reflections next, and then Mindfulness.

 

 

 

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