Today’s post is a guest post from Dan Erickson. Dan is a writer, a musician, and a teacher. He has written many songs and poems, and has published two books, including: A Train Called Forgiveness and At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy. He blogs about writing and using writing as a form of therapy at http://www.danerickson.net: Intentional Rhythms.
Nothing empowers you as much as your voice.
As a writer and speaker, I’ve learned that our voice is powerful. I’m not talking about your physical voice, but rather your ability to express yourself in words. That my be in speech or writing.
As a college instructor, I have often found myself in a position where I have to make an argument for a new course, or a new position. To date, I have been successful in every request I’ve made, including a handful of new courses, and recently a request for a new full-time instructor for our department. Why? Because I have studied and used my language and communication skills to the best of my ability.
Nothing will equip and empower you for success as much as the words you choose when communicating with others. And when you communicate with confidence in yourself and your Creator, you will shine. Here are four standards to follow when communicating with others.
1. Be direct: As a writer, I get straight to the point. Always attempt to say what needs to be said using as few words as possible. For instance, when describing a book or a movie, people want to hear the nuts and bolts. They want to know exactly what the book is about. I keep my own book descriptions down to less than a few hundred words. If you’re trying to pitch a screenplay, you’d better be able to describe it in a couple of minutes, or the equivalent of a short elevator ride.
2. Be tactful: When we are asking something of another person, we are essentially imposing on their privacy. This is where tact comes in. Although it’s important to be direct, sometimes being too direct can sound arrogant or demanding. Tact and disclaimers can work wonders in this area. Use politeness. Phrases like “I’m sorry to impose,” and “I know you’re busy” can help minimize the imposition when you’re speaking with someone who has more authority than you. Be tactful or go home.
3. Be thorough: I know I said that you need to be direct and succinct, but you also need to be thorough. When I make requests, I check all my facts. I do the required research. I make sure to address all of the needs on the table. When I write books, I write, rewrite, proofread, and edit. I also allow someone else to look over my written work to edit both for content and errors. Double and triple checking your work assures you that you’ve completed everything to the best of your ability. Make sure you cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s.
4. Be grateful: Tact and gratefulness are slightly different animals. Tact is choosing the right words. Gratefulness is showing the other that you are truly thankful for the opportunity to make your request. And gratitude is twofold. Of course you should always show your appreciation to those you’re dealing with, but you can also extend your thankfulness toward God for the opportunity in the first place. When we are thankful, we are more positive people. Positive people are much more likely to get offers and requests accepted than sourpusses.
You can equip and empower yourself to become a better communicator and let your Christian light shine simultaneously. Simply follow the steps outlined above. Be direct. Be tactful. Be thorough. Be grateful. If you use these strategies, the chances are much better that others will respond more favorably to your requests.
I’m sure you have other tips for communicating and negotiating with others. Please feel free to add to my short list in the comment section below. Thanks!