Five Simple Acts to Amp Up Your Communication Skills

Small gestures and simple acts make a significant difference in how your communications go, specifically how the other person feels about you and the conversations you share.

Here are simple tips from The Way to Say It to amp up your communication skills:

mom with teenager

Sit down – By sitting down opposite your listener, their experience of the communication changes. They feel more heard, more valued and they get the feeling you have spent more time with them. Taking a seat improves connection and communicates caring and interest.

 

 

 

Beautiful Eyes

Make eye contact – It’s easy to get distracted by any number of activities happening around you. Might be a text coming in on your cell. Or emails appearing on your computer screen, or other family members competing for your attention. If in the midst of these “distractions” you can maintain good eye contact, the person you’re talking with will feel valued when speaking and more interested when you are speaking.

 

 

 

respond baby

Confirm interest verbally – An occasional “I hear you, that makes sense, or I’m sorry to hear that,” goes a long way in demonstrating to others your interest and attention. This is a habit generally more common among women than men.  Make a habit of a few verbal confirmations in every conversation, especially the emotionally-charged and difficult ones. Your listener will really feel you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree.

 

 

office conversation

 

Face your listenerUse your body language to communicate “approachability” rather than distance. That means facing the person you are speaking with, focusing in on them and what they have to say.

 

 


open door green 
Communicate To communicate receptivity, openness, and a willingness to listen, unfold your arms. Uncross your legs. A relaxed body stance invites trust and demonstrates you are open to their thoughts and comments. It doesn’t mean you agree, just that you are open to other points of view.

 

 

Use Your Senses

Great communicators use more than one sense to communicate. That means auditory skills to listen; visual senses to observe another’s body language, facial expressions and gestures; kinetics to feel and sense the emotion and energy of the conversation; and even an occasional appropriate, supportive touch to connect and say what words cannot (it goes without saying the “touch” is non-threatening, non-sexual and appropriate to the situation). Don’t forget your intuition as another sense to utilize!

By implementing these simple steps and using multiple senses in communications, your talks will be more connected, more powerful, and more trustworthy whether you are chatting it up at home or at the office.

What simple acts make YOU a great communicator? Got any tips to share with our readers?

Don’t String Me Along

maybe notJust say “no!”

Call it a pet peeve, but it drives me crazy when people respond to my request with a “maybe” when clearly, they want to say “no.” Don’t get my hopes up with a “maybe.”

Saying maybe only delays the discomfort temporarily. Eventually, they will still have to say “no.” The delay of the inevitable, the avoidance, the bs answer only makes it more difficult.

Everyone asking for help, extending an invite or making a request is well aware they may be turned down. And though none of us like that rejection, it does go with the territory.  We don’t get everything we ask for.

The inability to decline a request only complicates things. Being turned down is acceptable. Maybe not our preference, but certainly acceptable and manageable.

Being told “Maybe…maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I can do that for you. Maybe I’ll be there” when it’s obvious that won’t happen is frustrating. It keeps us hopeful. It keeps us waiting and thinking our invite might actually be accepted.

Eventually we have to step up and take personal responsibility.  We need to communicate directly and use common courtesy. The other person is waiting on our response, planning around our possible “yes.” Often in their minds, it’s as if we already said “yes.”

When we are asked to attend a meeting or help with a project or offer support that we either cannot or do not want to do, we have to say so. Preferably right then and there. On the spot.

If you know the moment you’re asked for help that you aren’t available (or interested), say it. Say “no” in whatever form suits the situation. Whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, a close friend or a colleague, your response can be the same.

The way to say it should sound something like:

  • “No thank you, I’m not going to be able to help with that.”
  • “No, I’m sorry. It’s not possible this time.”
  • “No, I wish I could help but I’m already committed.”
  • “No, thanks for asking but I’m overwhelmed with commitments at the moment.”
  • “No. I appreciate the offer but that’s just not my thing.”
  • “No, I’m not going to be able to help you out.”
  • “Sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t make it.”
  • “Thanks for thinking of me but I won’t be able to join you.”
  • “You know, I appreciate the invite, but I’ve done that and it’s just not for me.”

Guidelines for turning down a request look like this:

1.     Don’t hesitate.
2.     Keep it short.
3.     Don’t explain.vote maybe
4.     Leave no doubt.
5.     Be courteous.

Essentially, keep it simple. Tell the truth and be sure you were understood.

Don’t say “maybe” when you mean “no.” You’ll save time. Avoid prolonged discomfort. Eliminate their wondering and no longer be chased for your answer. No one likes to be strung along. No one wants to wait and wonder. Without answers, it’s difficult to plan.

Next time someone in your life makes a request, asks a favor, or shares an invite, give your honest answer. Say it clearly, courteously and with grace, but say it.

49 Difficult Conversations: Which Ones Are You Avoiding?….Or Don’t You Want to Talk About It?

Difficult conversations. Life is full of them. More often than not people avoid them. They are uncomfortable. Embarrassing. Wrought with tension. They can be emotional. Are almost always awkward and well, they are just plain difficult.

There are numerous books about difficult conversations at home or with the boss or in relationships. It’s because unfortunately we really can’t move through life without encountering the need for difficult conversations.

crucial conversationsRather than avoid them, however, a more successful response is to simply dive into them. It reminds me of the expression, “the only way out is through.” Postponing and putting off these talks accomplishes nothing. The procrastination only intensifies the dread. The tensions mount and discomfort builds.

Nope. I’m not a believer in walking away. After years of coaching individuals in business and personal situations, not to mention my own share of challenging experiences, I’m certain it’s best to take a breath and lean into the awkwardness. Once begun, the conversations actually become easier than we expect. Half the battle is forging THROUGH the trepidation to just start. Kind of like Nike’s motto, “Just Do It.”

A difficult conversation is the need to address any subject or issue that creates the following:difficult conversations

  • Desire to run the other direction
  • Hope the circumstances will simply go away
  • Feeling of dread and anxiety even thinking of “talking it out”
  • Concern about “the way to say it”
  • Feeling of awkwardness when faced with the situation
  • Fear of saying it all wrong
  • Potential for drama, hurt feelings and emotional reactions

Here is a comprehensive, though not exhaustive, list of 49 topics most experts agree fall into the “difficult conversations” category:

1.       Asking for a raise

2.       Terminating an employee

3.       Resigning without burning bridges

4.       Breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend

5.       Ending a friendship

6.       Reminding a friend they owe you money

7.       Saying no to someone’s request for help, money, etc.

8.       Talking to loved ones about their end-of-life wishes

9.       Turning down an invite or opportunity that’s of no interest

10.   Bidding on a home or piece of real estate

11.   Refusing to compromise on a principle

12.   Expressing dissatisfaction with an employee’s attitude or work

13.   Cancelling a commitment

14.   Letting someone know you aren’t interested in developing a social relationship with them

15.   Expressing anger when someone violates a boundary

16.   Standing up to people who take advantage

17.   Apologizing for a mistake

18.   Delivering a poor performance review

19.   Negotiating a salary package

20.   Asking for a refund

21.   Accepting a gift you don’t like

22.   Expressing disagreement during conflict

23.   Speaking up when no one agrees with you

24.   Admitting an affair or indiscretion to your spouse

25.   Pointing out the flaws of a new plan or program at work

26.   Letting your friend know their new boy/girl friend is a loser

27.   Telling your spouse you overextended the family financially

28.   Confronting emotional or physical abuse

29.   Negotiating prices on services for your home

30.   Telling your parents you are going to break with family traditions

31.   Talking to your kids about sex

32.   Confronting your kids about drug use

33.   Telling your spouse you suspect them of  infidelity

34.   Talking to the police in confrontational situations

35.   Handling employee complaints

36.   Addressing inappropriate dress, language or hygiene in the workplace

37.   Confronting second-hand insults and comments

38.   Telling an employee they spend too much time on personal emails at work

39.   Drawing a line in the sand about behavior you’ll accept in a relationship

40.   Owning your mistakes in a relationship

41.   Making intimate requests of your spouse

42.   Telling your spouse you’re leaving, you want a divorce

43.   Confronting someone of suspected misconduct, theft or lying

44.   Giving honest feedback on work poorly done

45.   Facing your partner after a particularly ugly, out-of-control argument

46.   Apologizing for a deeply hurtful comment

47.   Telling your children you and your spouse are divorcing

48.   Talking with your spouse through the divorce process

49.   Sharing bad information with a client

Actually, the topic itself is less important in making it a tough conversation. What matters most is YOUR feeling about having that conversation.  If the mere thought of it brings up the anxiety and dread mentioned above, then for you it’s a difficult conversation and you might seek out some support to face it and get it behind you.

ostrichTell me, when do you stick your head in the sand instead of speak up? What topics do you avoid even though you know deep down the talk needs having?  I’d like to add your dreaded conversations to this for a future post. What are some of your most difficult conversations?

…..or don’t you want to talk about it?

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Ten Questions to Stop a Complaining Employee

Day at the office started off well enough, until your employee started in again complaining about his coworker.  Not only is it getting old, it is wasting valuable time and distracting your employee from his work.

He is focused on the co-worker, not his own stuff.  What SHOULD be different. What isn’t right or fair or logical.  Wah. Wah. Wah. He can see only what should be, rather than what is.

stop whining and find something to do

Assuming, for your own reasons, the co-worker is valuable and isn’t going anywhere, this issues needs addressing.

Here are some great questions to help your employee change his perspective:

1.  “What makes you certain your way is right? Can you step back and accept that others have “their” way?”

2.   “Are you willing to help your co-worker out to get on the same page?”

3.   “What can YOU do differently to shift this situation? Or to shift your feelings about it?”

4.   “What would happen if you simply ignored all of this?”

5.   “How might you be contributing to this situation?”

6.   “What is the cost to you of focusing on them rather than yourself?”

7.   “Imagine being able to just let it go. What would that be like for you? How would things be different for you? “

8.   “Instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong, are you willing to spend the next week looking for what they do right?  What their contribution is? Their value?”

9.  “In the big scheme of things, is this all that important?”

10.  “What humor or insight can you find in this?”

Frequently some of the best “workers” are the most vocal about others whose output or system doesn’t match their own.  Most likely BOTH employees are valuable or I’m assuming you would have made a staffing change, right?

Use these questions (not all at once, simply pick and choose a few to begin) to coach your distraught employee into seeing things differently.  Keep in mind, your employee must feel valued by you for these questions to be well received.  As always with “the way to say it”, your delivery and tone are as important, if not more important, than the words you choose.

By creating a simple shift in your employee’s perspective, you can alleviate the friction and redirect him back to his own work, plus get some peace of mind yourself.

Tell me…how have you successfully, or even not so successfully, handled these situations in the past? Love to hear your comments and ideas. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

 P.S. Your complaining employee could be a “he” or a “she.”

 

Are These 20 Phrases Damaging Your Career and Holding You Back at Work?

holding woman back at officeSome phrases we learn from our parents. Some we pick up listening to others. Some are just filler that make us more comfortable when we’re speaking. Many, unfortunately, are ineffective in creating great communications.

Check these out. Do they sound like you?

 

1.  “You really should…”  –  No one wants to be told what they SHOULD do.

2.  “You really shouldn’t…– And possibly even more what they SHOULDN’T do.

3.  “You made me feel…” – No one makes us feel anything. Our feelings and reactions are our choices.

4.  “You never listen” – This phrase is sure to shut down listening even more!

5.  “……… but ……….” – Any phrase followed by “but” negates anything said prior. Use “and” instead.

6.  “To be honest, I ________” –  This infers that maybe you weren’t being honest before, or that you aren’t always honest.

7.  “Basically”– It’s filler. It weakens your message. Learn to just say what you need to say without this lead-in.

8.  “You never” or “You always” – These generalizations are sure to shut down conversation or spark conflict.

9.  “We need to talk!”  – It sends heart rates up and folks running, as it is NEVER followed by good news.

10. “Why can’t you be more like …….?” –  You may have heard this as a child, but even there this phrase can produce nothing positive.

11. “You do that every time we …..– It’s accusatory, generalizing and will shut anyone down.

12. “Maybe” (when you really mean “no”) – If you are thinking “no”, learn to say it. Clearly, honestly and appropriately. Maybe leads to confusion down the road.

13. “It’s not my fault!”– True or not, let that fact be made clear by your conversation and explanation, not by sounding like a child defending themselves.

14. “What you have to understand is………”– No, it’s not true. No one HAS to understand anything. What you mean is “what I hope you understand is”…

15. “That’s not fair” – Unless you are under the age of 5, omit this phrase from ALL communications.

16. “With all due respect”– This phrase usually precedes passive/aggressive communication and is not offering respect at all, and it’s overused.

17. “That’s not a good idea” – You may think that, but a better way to respond might be, “Here is a concern I have about this idea” or “let’s examine that idea together.”

18. “Why would you do that?”  This one is usually full of “tone” and judgment. If you can deliver it as a genuine, neutral question of curiosity, it might work. Otherwise, skip it.

19. “Don’t take it personally– First of all, this phrase never stops someone from taking it personally and it usually precedes feedback that is potentially upsetting and personal to the listener. Just learn to deliver your feedback well…without this phrase.

20. “You need to …… – Another form of telling someone what to do. It’s not up to you to determine what someone else needs. You can request or suggest, or as a boss you can say, “Here is what I need you to do.”

If these expressions are part of your communications at work, it’s time to delete them and master some new, healthier responses.

Let me know you’re out there. Which ones do you struggle with? What expressions do you need a new response to substitute?

Stop Being Being a Scaredy Cat….Just Ask

afraid to ask

What is it? What is so hard about asking questions? Is it simply fear of not getting the wanted response? Or fear of what others may think of us for asking?

Here are some thoughts to reframe how you think about asking and reduce any hesitation you might have. “Asking” includes asking for favors, for help, for clarity, for a raise, or even just asking a question because you are curious.

cats you go first

There’s no harm in asking.

Always ask. There is no harm in asking. Whether it’s for a letter of reference or for help carrying files from your office to the car, it makes sense to ask for help. Most people are helpful by nature but may be distracted or unaware of what you need. A simple direct request for help is easily fulfilled more often than not.

Know there’s no guarantee.   If You Wanna Win, You Gotta Play. It’s like the lottery. You might not win when you play, but you certainly will not win if you don’t.  When you ask something of another, be prepared.  You may get turned down. They may say no. But the simple fact that you asked for what you need, immediately raises your chances of getting it. Now they know what you want. Take a shot. Your odds certainly improved by asking. Few people are good at mind reading! Just ask.

Keep Your Energy Unattached. If you make your request from an unattached and neutral place, you’ll be ready to deal with either response, a “yes” or a “no.” You will also know it’s ok either way. One prerequisite for asking is accepting this rule as truth:

 EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY “NO” TO YOUR REQUEST,

EVEN WITHOUT OFFERING A REASON.

Deliver Your Message with Clear Intent. When making a request, check yourself. Be certain you’re good-spirited, direct, and clear about what you’re asking. Know in advance what you would like and how best to ask for it without demand, powerlessness, or expectation. Regardless of the response you get, be sure to express gratitude for their consideration.

There are many gifts to adopting this way of thinking. One is the number of times others will step up and provide exactly what you need. Another gift of the process is that by freeing up your mind to always ask and to accept a yes as well as a no, you will realize the process works in reverse, too.

You will be able to graciously receive requests from others, because you too are free to say “no” just as they are.  It’s a win-win mind shift.

Begin asking for what you need rather than hoping others will figure it out, or feeling victimized and powerless because they don’t. The difference between hoping and waiting vs. asking and knowing is powerful.  I can’t wait to hear your experiences!

 

The Right Words to Turn Down a Reference Request

testimonials2

Just because you have been asked to provide a reference or testimonial,
doesn’t mean you are obligated.

Recently I’ve gotten numerous requests for testimonials and references.  Providing references is a great way to support those in our network. But suppose the reference request is from someone we hardly know? Or from an individual we never worked with, never purchased from?  What’s the right call then?

The answer is simple.

We tell them the truth.

We tell them we are not in a position to give what they are asking.

We remind them we have not worked together, or not worked together in years, so offering a testimonial feels out of sync.

We tell them we don’t know them well enough to speak to their strengths with confidence.

We wish them well.

It’s perfectly acceptable to not provide the reference. Opting out of such a request is always an option. The challenge is doing it honestly. Wording it well. Finding the way to say it.

Of course, saying “no” to a reference request might be slightly uncomfortable. Saying “no” usually is.  But it’s better than writing a testimonial we don’t feel comfortable giving.  To film a video testimonial, or write a letter of recommendation, or provide a verbal job reference that we can’t honestly stand behind, compromises our integrity.

And I am never never “for” that.  Saying yes when we want to say no is a people-pleasing act.  Helping is great. Supporting others is gracious, but doing so when it conflicts with our own feelings is a bad choice.

The question becomes how do we say “no” to a reference request?

 We start by:reference

 * Being truthful and genuine
* Saying it courteously and with kindness
*  Keeping  it simple, keeping it short
* Valuing our own integrity
* Not being overly apologetic  (Once will do)

 

As to the way to say it, here are some one line responses to graciously turn down a request for any kind of reference:

“You know, it’s been so long since we worked together that I can’t comfortably write you a reference.”

“Should we successfully work together in the future, I would gladly consider providing you with a reference then.  I’m sorry but till then, it’s premature.”

“I’m honored that you asked for my reference. Please know that I only provide references when I can really attest to someone’s work. I just don’t know you well enough.”

“I’m not in a position to really speak comfortably about your skills and attributes.”

“I wish I could help you out, but our working relationship is too new.”

“I’d love to see you get the job, but I won’t be able to help you with a job reference since I don’t know you in that capacity.”

These are just a few simple, honest ways to say “no” without offending the requester or looking unsupportive yourself.  You can always follow these statements with softeners like, “I’m sorry I can’t help you” or “I’m sure you understand” or even “I wish I knew you more. It’s just too soon.”

Occasionally someone will ask you to provide a testimonial anyway. Just remember, should they become pushy, it will be even more important for you to maintain your professionalism and obviously, NOT write the reference.

just say noIf you want to maintain the value of your opinion, your word, and your integrity, make it a personal rule:

Only give references for those people you feel certain about backing,

whether it’s for their skills, their character or their abilities.

Your references will carry so much more weight and substance when you do write them.

If You Don’t Tell Her, Who Will?

breaking the silence

You’ve been observing your best friend. You love her dearly, but—-and it’s a big but—- it appears she is headed towards a disastrous marriage. Or maybe she is dating a seriously controlling bad guy, an abusive guy. What do you do?

Do you say it? Do you tell her? Because if you, as a best friend or very dear friend, can’t tell her, who exactly is going to say it? Who is going to help her see what she can’t?

Clearly she is not seeing the whole picture.

Do you love her enough to say these tough things? Do you love her enough to risk facing her anger, her hurt feelings, and possibly a huge emotional outburst?

We worry friends might not like what we have to say. We’re certain they’ll be angry. We don’t know the way to say it. We fear saying it wrong, but deep down we really fear losing them, losing our friendship.  The social norm, “Mind your own business” comes to mind. Maybe it’s not our place we say to ourselves. Maybe they won’t want to hear it. Besides, maybe they already know it. Someone else will tell them, we hope. We don’t want to face this difficult conversation.

But no one else is going to tell them.  No one will speak up. If we are truly the friend we say we are, we need to be the one. We need to say it because true, deep, loving friends want the best for each other.  To be happy, safe, healthy and ideally to not experience pain…or much pain…in life.

If we are truly concerned for our friend’s well-being, our fears need to take a back seat.  Otherwise, we are actually putting ourselves first, not our friend. Some “bestie” we are!girls crying

Difficult conversations are just that. They include risks. They may trigger unpleasant reactions, but the message to be delivered is important and far outweighs the possible short-term reactions we may experience.  NOT delivering the truth, the message, the concern, the perspective includes far greater risks and far worse outcomes than someone being mad at us.

In my distant past, I had relationships with some real unhealthy guys. One in particular was dishonest, massively controlling, and manipulative; and over time, stole from me. Even so, not one of my friends told me the truth of what they saw, not until I was in pretty deep. Now I get that ultimately I was responsible for being in the relationship, but how might my life have been different if my friends at the time told me their truest deepest opinions and insights when the relationship started rather than after it was ended years later?  Might I have sped up my personal growth process? Might I have been able to see my patterns in relationship sooner? Might I have moved on to healthy relationships faster? What if, they told me what they saw and feared?  Maybe I would simply have been stubborn and continued in the same track. Or possibly, it might have saved precious time. I might have lost less of myself, my credit and even my savings.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, right?

Well, what if we added to that:

 Friends don’t let friends be disrespected.

Friends don’t let friends tolerate abuse.

Friends tell friends the truth, even when it’s really tough to say.

Here’s the deal. When as friends, we do speak the tough truth, we have to do so with these things in mind:

  • Your friend might choose not to listen. And that’s ok. It’s their choice and they may not yet be ready for the life lesson knocking on their door.  You still did the right thing.
  • They may get defensive. Sometimes the listener is still too mired in their denial, delusion, or pipe dream to see what we see. It’s ok; you still were a good friend.
  • Your friend may shut down entirely.  Your friend hearing your bad news may show no reaction and appear not to have heard you.  It’s ok; they did hear you, no matter how it looks.
  • You might become the bad guy. Upon hearing your perspective, your friend may defend their relationship choice and make you out to be the bad guy. That’s ok. You know the truth. You love them enough to speak up.

It’s important to keep in mind that none of us like hearing news that contradicts our feelings, especially those to do with “love” and relationships. Chances are your friend will react less than ideally to whatever tough-love conversation you have with them…at least initially.

As we deliver the news and observe our friend’s response, we must be neutral.  We need to be free of judgment. We must keep in mind the bigger picture… the long term well-being of our friends. Upon hearing what we have to say, our friend will need time to process. Time to think things over and maybe then ask more questions.

No matter what her reaction is, know this:  your sharing the honest truth planted a seed. Your friend may heed it now, or they may need time to process it, or even to hear it from others. But, you as their true friend have done your part by speaking truth. They and only they get to decide what to do with it.

tough love 2In my mind a really true friend loves me enough and has the guts to tell me the truth, plain and simple. The real good ones even love me enough to continue loving me even if I don’t “get it” right away. They wait. They give me time.

Have you ever had a friend show up for you at this level? A friend who loves you so much they are willing to piss you off, take the risk you will be ripping mad and even possibly shut them out, to protect you and show what you are not seeing for yourself?

I’d love to hear your stories. Then stay tuned for ” the way to say it”  in a tough-love conversation in my next blog post.

 

P.S. Sorry guys for ignoring you on this post, but in my experience guys tell their buddies when a woman is the wrong one for them. If I’m wrong on that count, let me know your experiences.

25 Habits that Kill Great Communication

Stop making difficult conversations harder than they need to be.

Stop making difficult conversations harder than they need to be.

The Way to Say It  is about more than just choosing the right words.  It’s also about what NOT to say and how NOT to behave.  It’s about conversational habits we need to break and remove from our difficult conversations. 

Many of these behaviors are so habitual we don’t even realize how they block powerful communication and sabotage our very efforts. Each of these 25 habits undermines trust, creates distance and keeps us from our conversational goals.  

What’s the point of stepping into a difficult conversation only to make things worse with your attitude or tone of voice, or even passive-aggressive behavior?

Learning to master difficult conversations takes effort. Make sure your tough talks don’t include any of these bad habits. 

Here are the behaviors that need to go:      

    1. Blaming others  while believing we are guilt free
    2. Using a sarcastic tone of voice
    3. Blind siding with a surprise attack
    4. Taking a defensive stance
    5. Attacking by using “you” statements
    6. Avoiding the actual subject
    7. Dancing around the issues with implications and vagueness
    8. Pretending all is well
    9. Fighting dirty with name calling or intentionally hurtful dialog,
    10. Talking over others
    11. Being a poor listener
    12. Playing the “I’m right, you’re wrong” card
    13. Saying the right words with the wrong tone
    14. Wanting to prove your point rather than resolve issues
    15. Making the issue public
    16. Not owning your stuff, your feelings
    17. Dismissing others’ opinions
    18. Patronizing and belittling others
    19. Interrupting others’ talk
    20. Not acknowledging honest effort of others
    21. Being dishonest
    22. Withholding the truth
    23. Avoiding eye contact
    24. Multi-tasking rather than being present
    25. Making excuses for your behavior

Which of these habits are yours? Most likely some, if not many, of these habits are things you have done when conversations are challenging. We all do. Especially  when we’re angry, hurt or impatient. To really lean into tough conversations and create dynamic, clear, honest connection, we need to eliminate these behaviors.

It may not be reasonable to expect to break all your bad communication habits, after all we generally learn them from our families and these habits go back years. But that is no excuse for continuing what is counter productive. One by one, we can learn the way to say it with respect, without tone, listening and owning our part and really breaking through to resolve issues and create powerful results.                                                                                           

something newFirst, we need to raise our awareness so we realize which destructive communication habits are ours. Once we identify the communication styles that are hampering our success, then little by little we can substitute a healthy alternative  that fosters trust, builds connection, and breaks down barriers rather than creating  new ones.

It’s a new year! How about starting off by observing your communication habits and admitting which ones are killing your communications?

25 Great Responses to Graciously Receive Gifts

pile of gifts

If you read my blog post earlier this week, 5 Things Never to Say When Receiving a Gift, you may have discovered you are not the best at accepting presents or expressing genuine gratitude. Maybe you struggle with finding the right words, or feel self-conscious. Or just don’t know the way to say it and express what you feel. No worries.

Now that you’re aware of how you come across, you can respond differently and be a gracious receiver.  People will love you for it, and you will enjoy gift exchanges much more yourself. Who knows, you might even find yourself the recipient of more gifts!

To begin, let’s go review those “Five Things Never to Say…” and offer better alternatives:

  1. Instead of “Can I open this later?” how about something more positive and engaging like, “Oh thanks! I’d love to open this now!Now your gift giver knows that you’re excited to be getting a gift and don’t’ want to wait to open it. What a great feeling they get, knowing you are excited! It’s a gift giver’s dream.
  2. Instead of “Do I have to open this now?”  Say “Can I open this now?  I’m just too excited to wait.” Think about it…if they hand you the gift now, it’s because they want you to open it now. Otherwise they would have waited. Generally, people hand you their gift when they want you to open it. Don’t disappoint. Let them enjoy the giving and witness your response.
  3. Instead of saying, “Thanks. I have one of these,” simply be gracious and receive it well saying, Thanks so much! This is a great gift.”
  4. If and only if, the gift is expensive and you have it already, your response will be a little more challenging to be honest. Consider saying something like, “Wow, I love this. I can’t believe how well you know my taste! I do have this item though. Do you think we can decide together on something to exchange it for?”
  5. Time after time I hear people (mostly women) lament, apologize, and fuss over the fact that they didn’t buy a gift as well. PLEASE, if this is you, eliminate this response from your repertoire. Take a breath and slip into the role of gracious receiver. Simply say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me! What a nice surprise!”

….and now twenty more choices to be a pleasant, gracious receiver this Holiday:

6.    “Thank you very much. This is something I’d never have splurged on.”

7.     “How did you know? …..I’ve been wanting a _________________.”

8.     “I love this. It’s so unique.”

9.     “What a great gift! Many thanks.”

10.   “I appreciate your kindness.”

11.   “That was very sweet!” (or kind, or generous or thoughtful)

12.   “What a fantastic gift! Thanks so much!”

13.   “I LOVE presents. Can I open this right now?”

14.   “This is really touching. Thank you.”

15.   “I’ve always wanted to have a _______________.”

16.   “I love handmade gifts. They have such meaning. Thank you.”

17.   “Thank you for thinking of me.”

18.   “Wow! You really know my taste. I love this.”

19.   “This is a perfect gift choice for me.  Thank you!”

20.   “I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

21.   “Thanks so very much. This is wonderful!”

22.   “I’m delighted. Thank you.”

23.   “Thank you so much. I will treasure this gift.”

24.   “How kind of you to buy me a gift.”

25.   “What a wonderful surprise! Thanks for thinking about me.”

It’s not too late to be a wonderful receiver of gifts, acts of service, or hospitality this Holiday season. Simply try these responses and allow yourself to be a bit more open.

Regardless of the way you say it this Holiday and whether you find the right words, don’t be a Grinch!  Enjoy and let the gratitude in your heart come through to those who love you enough to purchase a gift they chose especially for you.

How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas

THANK YOU for following my blog! That is a great gift to me!

Happiest of Holidays!

 See you after the New Year with more of the way to say it.