Reduce stress by communicating better
by Amy Beth Miller, editor, Communication Briefings
What’s the biggest source of stress in your life? You might be tempted to say “Other people.” Often, however, the root cause of stress is your own failure to communicate effectively.
During Stress Awareness Month, take a closer look at the situations that add strain to your life. See how communication plays a primary role in these situations:
- “People failed to meet my expectations.” Assuming that people understand what you want or need is a sure way to be disappointed. Start by explaining what you want them to do, when it needs to be done and why completing it is important. Avoid vague words like “soon” and “good.” If doing it a certain way is important, describe the right way to do it in detail. Explain what the consequences will be if the person doesn’t do as you ask.
- “I didn’t understand the situation.” Assuming that you understand also is dangerous. Paraphrase what the other person has said to check whether you are on the right track.
When details are important, ask open-ended questions to ensure that you receive complete answers. Example: “You said that Pump 3 has failed. What other problems are we having?”
- “They didn’t listen.” Making sure that people understand your message is your responsibility. Choose the right format and words for the situation. Don’t send a memo when a conversation would be more effective. Tailor your message to emphasize key points, eliminate confusing words and avoid unrelated topics. Then, check for understanding. Ask questions to ensure that the other person knows what to do now. Example: “What’s the first step you will take?”
- “I don’t have enough time.” If you aren’t controlling your time commitments, that’s also a failure to communicate. Speak up to protect your priorities. (Download a free “How to Say ‘No’” guide from The Complete Stress Management Toolkit. Click here for your copy.)
You can’t eliminate all stress, but by communicating effectively you can minimize the number of stressful situations you encounter.
Last month’s question
Communicating with your customers is key for success, and organizations have many channels from which to choose. Last month we asked “How do you communicate with your customers?”
Only 3% of readers say they communicate only face-to-face or by phone. Readers are reaching out in many ways:
- 98% send emails or e-letters.
- 60% send printed newsletters.
- 35% reach out through social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- 8% connect in Internet forums.
We are reaching out to our customers in many ways too. Be sure to check out our Communications Briefings website, our Nitpicker’s Nook blog, our Workplace Survival page on Facebook and our Twitter feed, @WorkSurvival.
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