How to Use Feelings and Actions for Effective Communication
In our previous article: How Can You Create Change Through Communication?, we talked about the elements of communication, and communicating with words. In this article we’ll talk about using actions and feelings to effectively communicate.
When you communicate with feelings you listen with your heart and you speak from your heart. This is sometimes referred to as empathetic listening.
Listen to the whole person:
- Mind (ideas)
- Heart (emotions)
- Body (words)
- Spirit (who they are)
Are all of us equally passionate about the same things? Usually we are not. Perhaps you know someone who is passionate about something you do not find interesting or something about which you may even have a strongly different point of view. Do you find it difficult to listen?
In order to influence, we need to be open to being influenced. This does not mean that you abandon your values to please others. It just means that you are willing to listen to their point of view without judging them. You can listen with your heart and then ask them to listen while you speak from the heart. When done with an open heart and mutual respect, this can strengthen your friendship. You can value one another because of your differences.
When you listen with your heart and speak from your heart, you open the way to influence others to change.
Communicating with Actions
Communicating with actions includes looking for and recognizing the message behind the behavior of the person you are listening to as well as following up your words with respectful action that matches up with what you have said.
You have heard the expression: “actions speak louder than words“. When your words and your actions are incongruent, you lose credibility. When you want to communicate certain changes and actions, you need to model the behavior you want.
When someone acts in a given way, there is usually a reason behind the action. For example, when a child interrupts your phone conversation to ask for a drink of water, your child probably does not really need a drink of water; he or she is seeking attention.
When someone acts in a given way, it is usually with the desire to fill one or more of their primary needs.
One way to build trust and influence others is to keep your promises. If you say you will do something, then do it. Otherwise, do not say it. Sometimes people threaten certain actions that they know they will not do because they believe that the threat will motivate someone to act. Those tactics do not work – not in the long term. People who use them not only lose trust, they also lose respect. Both trust and respect are necessary to achieve influence.
We have addressed communicating with word, feelings and actions. The more congruent these are, the more effective your communication. The more effectively you communicate, the more you inspire others to change.
Listening to Learn
Active listening is listening for information and content. Through active listening you understand both the content and the feeling behind the content. There are three basic ways to practice active listening.
- Simply to repeat back what you think the other person is saying.
- Paraphrase, stating in your own words what you heard the other person say.
You can put these methods into practice with the following phrases.
- I heard you say…
- I understood you to say…
- Let me summarize what you have told me…
This is an excerpt from my book “Embracing Change From the Inside Out”
If you’re ready to make life changes from the inside out contact me, I will help you understand how to make those changes.