Do You Communicate Effectively? Part 1

Do You Communicate Effectively? Part 1

Do You Communicate Effectively? Part 1


When it comes to communication, there are several components involved within it.  We often times think that we know how to communicate but a good question to ask is, “are we communicating effectively?” In the next couple blogs, I am going to go over blocks to listening, how to effectively listen, and how to effectively speak. You may be saying, “I know how, why should I read this?” My answer…”who did you learn how to communicate from?” Could there be some problems in their communication that you’ve learned? If so, please consider reading this. What harm could it do by taking five minutes out of your day to go over this information?


Blocks To Listening


Comparing makes it hard to listen because you’re always trying to assess who is smarter, more competent, or more emotionally healthy.

Mind Reading doesn’t allow us to pay attention to the speaker because we are trying to figure out what the other person is really thinking and feeling. The mind reader pays less attention to words than to intonations and subtle cues in an effort to see through to the truth.

Rehearsing doesn’t allow us time to listen because you are rehearsing what to say. Your whole attention is on the preparation of your next comment. You may look interested but your mind is going a mile a minute because you are trying to get your point across. Some people even go to the extent of rehearsing whole chains of responses.

Judging and labeling give us the excuse of not needing to listen. When we judge, we are writing the person off and therefore saying, we don’t need to pay attention to them. A basic rule of listening is that judgments should only be made after you have heard and evaluated the content of the message.

Dreaming is when we have triggers of private associations while someone else is talking. You are more prone to dreaming when you feel bored or anxious. Everyone dreams, and you sometimes need to make huge efforts to stayed focused on what the other person is saying. If you dream a lot with certain people, it may indicate a lack of commitment to knowing or appreciating them. At the very least, it shows that you don’t value what they have to say.

Identifying is when you take everything someone is telling you and refers it back to your own experiences. Everything you hear reminds you of something that you’ve felt, done, or suffered. You’re so busy with those exciting stories that there is no time to really hear what the other person is saying.

Advising can be helpful at times but can also interfere in what someone is trying to tell you. You don’t have to hear more than a few sentences before you begin searching for the right advice. While you are coming up with suggestions you could easily miss what is most important. The speaker will most of the times feel very alone because you couldn’t listen and just be there to validate.

Sparring is a listening block because you are arguing and debating instead of listening. The other person never feels heard because you’re so quick to disagree. A lot of the focus is on finding things to disagree with. You take strong stands and are very clear about your beliefs and preferences. The way to avoid sparring is to repeat back and acknowledge what you’ve heard. There are two subtypes of sparring. One is the put-down. You use sarcastic remarks to dismiss the other person’s point of view. The second type is discounting. This is for people who can’t stand compliments. The basic technique of discounting is to run yourself down when you get a compliment. Others never feel satisfied that you really heard their appreciation.

Being Right means that you will go to any lengths to avoid being wrong. You can’t listen to criticism, you can’t be corrected, and you can’t take suggestions to change. Your convictions are unshakable. Since you won’t acknowledge that your mistakes are mistakes, you just keep making them.

Derailing is accomplished by suddenly changing the subject. You derail the train of conversation when you get bored or uncomfortable with a topic.

Placating can be beneficial but when all you want is for people to like you, you will agree with everything. You may half listen to them but just enough to get the drift, but you’re not really involved. You are placating rather than tuning in and examining what’s being said.

Now, if you would like to take this a step further, you can get a piece of paper and write down the significant people in your life and which blocks you typically use with each of them.

Once we have an idea of which we use, you may seem to notice these more and if you do, try to correct yourself. The ultimate goal is to get rid of all of these blocks and to be able to fully listen to each person.


Stay tuned for the next segment of this which is learning the four steps to effective listening.






*Information taken from the book Messages: The Communications Skill Book by Mathew McKay
*Image courtesy of bplanet at