Communication Skills Matter in Business and in Life
Episode #1 of the course How to communicate like a pro by Patricia Haddock
“Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.” —James Thurber, American author
Welcome to the course!
Congratulations on deciding to improve your communication skills.
I’m Patricia Haddock, a successful entrepreneur and former executive for a major financial institution. I teach professional skills development in large organizations and help career and entrepreneurial professionals overcome obstacles to achieve long-term career and business success.
Over the next ten days, you will learn strategies, tactics, and tools to help improve your communication skills, increase your confidence when presenting ideas, and improve written communication.
You can gain many benefits for both your work and your life by investing time and energy into improvement. A study on relationships by John Gottman, PhD, the University of Washington, and The Gottman Institute showed that the primary reason for divorce comes from communication issues and the inability of the partners to express themselves. Good communication strengthens connections and lessens misunderstandings.
It also reduces the likelihood of mistakes, saves time, and improves people’s perception of you as a professional. You will more easily gain cooperation and collaboration from others, which in turn, boosts self-confidence and self-esteem.
Let’s start today’s lesson by looking at four common styles of communicating. Generally, everyone tends toward one style more than the others.
• Aggressive communicator. These people usually have a loud, commanding voice. They don’t make requests—they issue commands. Eye contact is direct and confrontational and body posture is commanding and forceful. They are frustrated easily and rarely listen to others, who often perceive them as rude and boorish.
• Passive communicator. Passive communicators, on the other hand, seem indifferent and uninvolved. They rarely express how they feel or what they believe and often defer to stronger communicators. They avoid eye contact and rarely say no or object to things.
• Passive-aggressive communicator. This is a combination of passive and aggressive communicators. They struggle with finding a way to express themselves appropriately and often feel like a victim. The passive/aggressive style can become resentful of those who express themselves more easily. This causes them to act out in subtle ways like giving someone the “silent treatment,” spreading gossip, and backbiting. When confronted by their behavior, they may pretend to be unaware of having done anything wrong.
• Assertive communicator. Assertive communicators are polite and respectful, use positive listening skills, and express their views without becoming argumentative or defensive. They take ownership of what they are saying and honestly communicate how they feel. Their speech is calm and clear, their eye contact is appropriate, and they use an open, relaxed posture.
Each of these styles affects others differently.
Aggressive, passive, and passive/aggressive communication styles do not help you build effective, long-term relationships. They can cause resentment and lead to conflicts.
Assertive communication, on the other hand, is the most effective style. It is open, receptive, and courteous and takes the feelings and opinions of others into account.
When you communicate assertively, you state what you believe, how you feel, and what you want without challenging or criticizing others. You learn to say no in a way that does not generate resistance.
Step 1. Start paying attention to how people react when you are speaking.
• Are they open and receptive, or do they use closed-off, protective body posture?
• Do you get the results you need easily, or do you often experience miscommunication?
Step 2. Review the descriptions of the four styles, and decide which one describes you most closely.
• Do you need to cultivate a more assertive style?
Each lesson will show you how to become a more assertive communicator. See you tomorrow, when we will explore what it takes to communicate with confidence.
The Magic of Communication Styles: Understanding Yourself and Those Around You by Paul Endress
Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan
 The Gottman Institute: Marriage and Couples
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