One of the eye openers I gained from studying Neuro Linguistic programming is that you can share most thoughts, emotions and observations, even if you imagine the person on the other end won’t like it, isn’t open to criticism or can’t handle what you have to say.

Have you ever shared something thinking it was going to be a difficult conversation but the other person reacted far more calm, reasonabe and understanding than you thought? Maybe you got these four tips just right.

  1. Know why you want to say what you are about to say. This way, you can choose your words to suit the purpose. It is good to realise that all things we do and say are because of our own needs. We feel the need to help, to express ourselves and be heard, to make things better, etc. Knowing our reason for speaking is key to speaking effectively.
  2. Focus on rapport (relationship) first. Even in existing relationships we need to re-establish the relationship before diving into a subject. Coming together, feeling the vibe, showing that we value each other. Acknowledging the person before we address the function and dive into subject matter is essential. This means knowing which person just needs a simple ‘hi, how are you’ and another needs ‘hey you, I heard your child is poorly, how are you guys handling it and is there anything I can do?’ Skip focusing on the relationship and you can forget about teamwork, undersanding each other or getting a job done. We want to be seen first and we want to feel safe.
  3. Pick your moment, but don’t wait too long to express yourself. Most mistakes in expressing critiscism are made by not knowing our goal in critiscising or waiting too long to express ourselves, which leads to us overthinking and getting it wrong. When something annoys us we feel something in our body. Our body knows where we feel it and why. A quick, instinctive reaction is often a very pure one, because it comes from the body. You might be afraid of being too direct or harsh if you react impulsively. And for some of us, that can be the case. As a result, we tend to not react on the spot so we can rationalize and act appropriately. The trouble with our brain is that we are arrogant beings. To analyze a situation we need to presume we know what other people think and want, we presume that we understand and control ourselves, and we presume that we are smart enough to know how to resolve any situation. When often it’s our (over) thinking that gets us into trouble. It leads to us becoming slightly mechanical in how we eventually try to resolve an issue and express ourselves. As a result, it becomes difficult to maintain rapport and the person on the recieving end is left decyphering our words. Because when we think a lot we tend to overcomplicate. If this is recognizable, try experimenting with saying how you feel about something as soon as it happens. Dare to be bold and show emotion. You might be surprised by the positive response you get and how good it feels to react straight away. This takes a lot of practice, because some of us absolutely need a minute to think about what annoyed us and to find our words. It’s all about experimenting. Obviously there is a fine line here, we don’t want to be harsh. Here’s where the next tip is very important.
  4. Say it with warmth. Even if you get the other things wrong, if you say what you have to say with warmth then you’ll get a positive response. By warmth I mean you need to care about the other person’s feelings and tap into your internal source of love. Yes, I said love. Because love is the most pure and naturally abundant emotion we have. You might only use the word love towards your spouse or direct family but love is actually a driver in many areas of our lives, including the workplace. Love is why we want to help and add value. Love is even why we get satisfaction from teamwork and getting results together. When critiscising, remember the recieving party is a human, with his or her own story and reasons why mistakes are made. Even when somebody does something that seems mean, realise that they might be hurting or going through something difficult. Take the high road and be warm.

So in short: know why you want to speak, focus on the relationship first, don’t wait too long to express yourself, and say it with warmth.

Next time you criticise and you get a negative response, you might want to look at these four points to find which mistake you made.

This way you cannot go wrong and you forge strong relationships. And, practise makes perfect!

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