How You Communicate Makes All The Difference – Part 2

How you communicate makes all the difference in the world. You can say something one way and get a positive response and say something another way and get a negative response.

In my last blog, I addressed this “truism” as it relates to your work environment with co-workers or employees and with clients. Now, let’s look at how this truism about communication relates to your personal relationships—family and friends.

Have you ever said something in haste, anger, or distress that you would give anything to take back? Of course. We all have. I said something once to my beloved mother which I meant as support and encouragement for her in a time of illness. However, she and my father misinterpreted what I said and that misinterpretation was very hurtful to them. My mother has been gone a long time and yet, I still regret ever saying anything that hurt her. She is beloved to me and I would never do anything with intention to hurt her. And, yet, I did.

I can have a very sharp tongue and while my intentions are never to hurt anyone, I certainly can do that. I find that those times when I do not communicate well—or even when I communicate poorly—that those challenging times and the hurt caused by an inappropriate word or exchange haunt me. The hurt caused to another NEVER leaves my heart. And probably never leaves theirs either.

My ever-patient husband, John, says “Cathy, sleep on that. You’re tired. You’re stressed. This is not a good time to make that decision—or talk to that person.,”—or whatever. He is SO RIGHT. When I get overly tired, I’m not at my best. Are you? And when we are interacting with the people we love the most, being at our very best is of utmost importance.

With whom is it most important to be patient and kind? I would say the people who are dear to you—your family and friends. When it’s all said and done—who will be standing by your side (or your graveside?) – your family and friends. Speak to them with courtesy and grace—and love.

Because communication is a set of skills, they can be studied, learned and improved upon. I have taught communication skills for many years—to parents, teachers, women, and professionals of both genders. And while I have studied with the very best and have taught these skills for years, written articles and books about them, and etc., I still have much to learn—and a long way to go in developing those skills. Who doesn’t?

If communication skill is the bottom line to our success, and I believe it is, then a lifetime of study and a commitment to continuous improvement will serve our relationships well.

Please know that when I am speaking of communicating from a place of love and grace with your family and friends, right at the top of that list is your children. Erma Bombeck—a fantastic writer—has commissioned us in her books about family to pay attention to how we speak to our children and ask ourselves, “would I speak to a stranger in the same tone or with the same words I am speaking to my own children?” Be aware of what you say and how you say it. Hurtful words to a child are not forgotten and can shape many aspects of their “self” and their lives.

Let the meaning of this “truism” sink in—and with thoughtful attention, remember that “how you communicate makes all the difference. You can say something one way and get a negative response or say something in another way and get a positive response. The efforts will be worth it—forever.