How to make yourself Heard

You want to be effective when you speak. Whether it's a business meeting, or relating with your children, effective communication is a skill worth having. Poor communication can lead to inefficient workplace habits, hurt feelings as well as more dire consequences. Vague wording can be a culprit or words that can be interpreted in more than one way. Feeling diminished or ineffectual is not healthy. Poor communication skills can lead to low self esteem.

Make eye contact when you speak to people. Have a firm handshake. Don't wait to be introduced, introduce yourself with an authentic smile and an outstretched hand. Learn to evaluate a person's need for personal space. IF they step back as you move closer, you've come too close already. Refrain from over powering smells such as cheap perfume. Even expensive perfume is offensive if you splash on too much. IF your soap, deodorant and cosmetics each have a competing smell you may be giving your co-workers a head ache. When possible chose hygiene and laundry components without added scents. You never know when someone you are trying to communicate with has a preconceived association to the smell. No sense has more subconscious power than the sense of smell; it evokes memory more vividly than sight or sound.

The power of miscommunication can be quite poignant at times. I remember when I was a child my mother was in the habit of picking me up from school one day a week, Thursdays, because that was the day we had an errand to run after school. Most other days I walked or took a bus home from school. One Thursday morning my mother reminded me and my brother to grab bus tickets. Thinking nothing of it, we did. After school we waited in the parking lot, hour after hour. We argued on whether it would be best to leave the spot and find a phone (alas the days before cell phones were invented) or if it were better to stay in the normal meeting place.

Finally in tears I called my mother over my brother's objections only to receive a piece of her mind. Furious to learn we hadn't taken the bus home, she complained "I told you just this morning to grab tickets!" Ahhh yes. How much more clear it would have been for her to say, "This Thursday, contrary to our usual schedule, I will not be picking you up. Please take the bus home." Although I was less than ten years old at the time, I had the gumption to point out to her, that her instructions were not clear. Not only I, my older brother had misunderstood her as well.

Communicating well is free of four common blocks:

1) Moralistic Judgments

2) Comparisons

3) Denial of responsibility

4) Demands

Moralistic Judgments

When our language is peppered with interpretations, transference and judgments of others such as "She's lazy" (a judgment), "You're just like my mother!" (transference) or "You don't love me," (interpretation) we shut down the other before we have even begun to make our needs known. Such language may be common, provocative, and socially acceptable. It just isn't effective. If you have something to say that you want heard, avoid all of that. State your observations concisely: in lieu of "She's lazy," say "I have not seen Susan work a full shift since she was employed here." If this is an established fact, Susan is much more likely to hear your request than if you started in with a unattractive assessment of her personhood.


"Why can't you be like your brother?" While moralistic judgment can be dangerous, there's no faster way to shut down communication than comparison. People are unique. Stay away from this sort of verbiage. It never motivated anyone.

Denial of Responsibility

We are thinking human beings living in a free country. Saying things like, "I had to marry him," or "You should do the dishes," obscures personal responsibility. Communication is more effective when we are firmly aware of our needs, desires and choices.


Ask any parent, you can't "make" anyone do anything. Asking in the form of a demand, heightens antagonism and makes compliance less likely. Even if people comply momentarily because of shame, guilt or coercion, you will not be able to count on their compliance. Ask for what you would prefer, making your needs known concisely, detached from the out come. If the person you are making request of, says "no" you are free to solve your problems else where. This is better than counting on a person to help you, who has no actual intention of helping you.

We live in a modern world with more forms of communication than ever before: cell phones, internet, texting, snail mail, and face to face. Yet many feel alienated. Be part of the solution, not the problem!

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