Friday, July 30, 2010

Family Power Blog # 2
Dr. Ed Hollenberg
August 1-15, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?...

Communication is building bridges, connecting those bridges can be a very complex process. Sharing differing viewpoints is a daily challenge for government leaders, co-workers, families and friends. Effective communication skills are vital for progress and peace. This powerful process requires lifelong study and practice. Chapter 2 of "Family Power" outlines several positive habits for growing in communications.

Eliminating Noise and Distractions:
Physical and psychological noise often makes communications difficult. Advertising, electronic devices, traffic and movement distract our focus. Many times, in conversations, we do not listen actively, instead thinking of what we want to say next. A response/able listening habit is asking, "Is this what I hear you saying?" Value the person and the message by saying it back. Our own perceptions may not be as accurate as we think! Maintaining eye contact is also key, looking directly at the other person beyond the cosmetics, hair, clothes and other physical features.

The POWER of Words:
George A. Miller observed, "The most powerful stimulus for changing minds is not a chemical or a baseball bat, it is a word." Dedication to study of language is important as is understanding that word meanings are often found in a person's perceptions and experiences. Words can kill or correct - wound or heal - lift up or let down - motivate or stagnate. Words can be reactive or responsive. Subtle differences often prove significant. As Mark Twain noted, "The right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

Non-Verbal Messages:
Two thirds of our communication with each other is non-verbal. 7% in our choice of words, 35% in the tone of our voice and 58% in body language such as postures and gestures. Raising one's awareness of non-verbal communication requires active listening and concentration. We must watch and listen for the suppressed, unexpressed desires and concerns of others. To understand non-verbals requires face-to-face conversation. Phone conversations, e.mails and other passive forms of communication pale by comparison.

We can all live richer, fuller lives in harmony at work, home and in our relationships if we practice empathetic, loving communication skills. For many of us, it requires a journey of many years to process words and ideas more response/ably. Perhaps this old poem says it best: "The wise old owl sat in the oak, The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why can't we be like that old bird?"

Powerful Words for Family Power!
Dr. Ed

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