Top 7 Tips to Communicate Calmly

I have had an exciting morning today. I was filming an upcoming television show here in Toronto. The show is called “Save Us From Our House” and is aired on the W Network. It is a half-hour show where they try to help a family with two key problems; one is their current living conditions and the other is effective communication. As my brother would tell you, I can’t fix or build things very well (my brother can fix anything from a toaster to a helicopter…) so you know I was not there to repair the home. I was there to do what I do best – help people communicate better.

Time was limited. I usually have a chance to give new clients a full hour assessment and structure a coaching program where we meet once or twice a week, for a series of six to twelve weeks. Today however, things were different. I had only twenty minutes to talk to this wonderful family and then dish out some quick and pertinent advice to assist their communication improvement. Then, it was “Action” and the rest of my advice would have to be given on the fly, while the family went shopping and while the cameras were rolling. It was an enjoyable experience and I believe that even in a short time the family learned a lot, especially since they will have the benefit of watching the show over and over again, and hear me coaching them on how to improve their 3 Vs of communication.

I do not know yet when this episode will air, as they are still filming. It may be quite a while before it hits the air, so for now I would like to give you all the same top 7 tips for communicating calmly that I gave the family. By the way, I would like to take this time to say hello to that wonderful family: Wilson, Belisa, Kaitlin and Julian – you all did a great job today, and I know you love each other very much. Good luck with your new house, whenever they are finished renovating it. I can’t wait to see it on T.V.!

Okay, here are the Top 7 Tips to communicating calmly:

1 – Look at the person you are talking to. Square your body and hips. Make eye contact. Relax your face muscles and then relax all of your muscles. Smile (5%) as you listen.

2 – Use open body language. Lean in slightly; do not cross your arms, legs or ankles (no matter how comfortable it is) and try to keep your shoulders relaxed. That not only helps you relax and relieve tension, but it also encourages the other person(s) to adopt the same body language. Do not use fists, interlocked fingers or other close-handed gestures. Use open-palmed ones instead. Do not point at others.

3 – Breathe. Breathe before, during and after your difficult or heated discussion. If necessary take a few seconds or a minute before responding to collect your thoughts. Count to ten if you need to.

4 – Control your pace. It is not a race right? Say a few words or a phrase, then take a quick pause, then continue with a few more words or the next phrase. Think how Barack Obama speaks; calm, cool and in control. It is strong but not aggressive.

5 – Use positive language. Instead of saying the first thing in your head, ask yourself internally if there is a softer, less aggressive way to say what you want to say. Try not to blame or accuse others. Instead of pointing the finger, just speak about your own feelings and expectations first. Ask questions to clarify or give the person a chance to explain themselves. Staying positive helps keeps things from getting personal and out of control. It is very difficult to have a healthy conversation or persuade someone to do what you want when they feel under attack. They will resist everything you say, regardless of any logic presented.

6 – Do not shout. Ever. If you feel the need to talk louder than the other person, that means you are not listening. Be quiet and listen first before you make your points. Use medium volume in your speaking. If someone shouts at you do not engage in conversation until they are calmed down. Shouting is simply not necessary to convey your points.

7 – Do not argue. It is fine to state what you want or need or feel, but it is not okay to argue and treat a conversation like a competition. Competitions are for sports and games with rules. If you think that you must ‘win’ the argument that means you are forcing the other person to ‘lose’. How does it feel when you lose at something? Not so good right? So do not make another person feel that way, especially a friend or family member. Do you really want them to feel like a ‘loser’?

Enjoy the tips and I will let you know when the episode airs. However, if you feel that you could benefit from effective communication training, especially if you are interested in building more confident communications in your professional life, then please check out the next Toronto communication workshop, running November 8th. We will be in a downtown hotel, have catered lunch, and everyone will get a free coaching session as well as a discount off any future workshop or coaching program. It is a great time to invest in your future success!

Any questions about the workshop, or anything else, please do not hesitate to ask.

P.S. I think I should also let you know that I have been more active with my blog lately, and you may find some great communication tips and resources there. I have recently posted things on leadership, NLP, Entrepreneurialism, ESL resources, and a free eBook called Communication Mosaic.

Thank you.

All the best!