15 Phrases That Will Help You Better Understand a Hard Conversation. By Marissa Levin

I've had the opportunity to dig into a new book that I believe will solve many communications problems for anyone who reads it: "The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book.”  It has more than 2,000 phrases to address virtually any type of workplace conflict, but of course we can apply these theories to our personal relationships too. 

In today's distracted environment where people are concurrently checking or being interrupted by their devices while having conversations, or are having more "conversations" via text, we are all vulnerable to being misunderstood, and we are more likely to misunderstand others. Communication is simply much more challenging.

"The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book" provides us with these phrases we can use when a communications breakdown or misunderstanding is likely.

Here are 15 to help us be more engaged, and to encourage our partner to share more.

  1. What happened?
  2. Can you give me an example?
  3. It seems like we are having a hard time being clear with each other. Can we start over?
  4. I appreciate your undivided attention. It lets me know you are listening to what I have to say.
  5. Every time you look at your [phone, watch, computer], you signal that this conversation is not important.
  6. So your main concern is [x].
  7. You look puzzled. Should I repeat that?
  8. You look excited. What do you want to tell me?
  9. Is this what you said?
  10. I hope I am not jumping to conclusions, but what I heard you say was [x].
  11. Tell me more about [x].
  12. Just so we are clear, here is what I heard you say.
  13. That's very interesting. Go on, I would like to hear more.
  14. What happened next?
  15. Really?

We all know how it feels to be engaged in a conversation at work and feel that we are not being heard, or that the other person isn't "there" with us. By being more cognizant of how we are coming across in a conversation, and by actively listening to what is being said, we maximize the opportunity for not only greater clarity, but also for a deeper connection.

Here are 10 reasons to engage in active listening:

  1. You better understand people.
  2. You can start new conversations.
  3. You can intelligently answer questions and make informed decisions.
  4. You can correct misconceptions.
  5. You can increase your own knowledge.
  6. You can learn a new perspective.
  7. You can correct your own false assumptions.
  8. You can stay relevant and current.
  9. You can learn specific language and lingo for an organization or project.
  10. You can direct your conversation partner to additional sources of support once you understand their situation.

Active listening starts with our own self-awareness of how we may come to conversations with filters or with closed minds. Once we clear the block that may be preventing us from listening fully, we open the potential for unlimited understanding, connection, and attainment of knowledge.

Good luck!

This article originally appeared in Inc.com on August 30, 2017

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