Harnessing the Power of Language

Clear and Effective Communication Relies on Listening

Clear and effective communication is more about listening than about what is said or how it is expressed. To be able to actually hear what is said by others requires a shift in how people typically operate during conversations.

“Miscommunication is at the heart of many of our problems as individuals and as a society, and at the heart of much of that miscommunication is the fact that most people don’t have very good listening skills,” according to David Cunningham in a series of recent online articles. Cunningham is senior program leader with Landmark Education, a global enterprise that offers communication training and development programs in more than 120 cities. Landmark Education helps people discover barriers to effective communication and it helps them master both hearing what others say and expressing themselves fully.

Three Principles of Communication

Cunningham advised that, with practice, anyone can master the three key principles of good communication – listening, distinguishing and creating. Used together, these principles can dramatically impact the quality of life.

People are not as good at listening as they think.

“We’re often so busy thinking about what we’re about to say, or remembering the last time we interacted with the person, we are likely paying more attention to our own thoughts than to what the other person is really saying,” Cunningham conveyed to Suite 101.

The second principle of good communication – distinguishing – involves learning how to tell the difference between what was said and what people think was said.

“Once you’re really committed to hearing what the other person is saying and are actively listening,” said Cunningham, “then you practice looking for where you are adding your own interpretation of what that person said. We do this every day, but the trick is, we’re not usually aware we’re doing it.”

Use Language Creatively

Using language to create is the third communication principle. Cunningham explained that typical conversations, however, use language to report.

“We talk about what happened, the weather, what we’re going to do, how we feel, and so on,” added Cunningham. “Which is all fine, but it doesn’t actively create anything.”

Masterful communicators, he concluded, use language to actively create new possibilities and relationships after carefully listening to others and distinguishing between the actual messages and the personal interpretations.

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