Speaking With Good Purpose
One of the really hard but powerful skills of communications is to speak with good purpose.
Speaking with good purpose means conversing with others in a way that is honest, straightforward, and with the aim of building better relationships.
Don't Speak to Criticise, Speak Only to Explain
Take for example the following phrase: "You're so sloppy. Your work area is such a mess."
This is likely to antagonise the person to whom it is directed who will most likely respond in the same manner (since behaviour breeds behaviour) or go on the defensive. Either way, your point will be defended or denied and the conversation, to say nothing of the relationship, will pretty quickly be over.
If, on the other hand, you worked out in advance that you really needed the other person to know how you felt and what you wanted them to do, you could phrase the same message in the following way which leaks no anger or put-down: "I find it really hard to share an office with you because we have such different ideas about organisation."
Now, you have the basis for a much better working arrangement.
Three Ways to Speak with Good Intent
Bobby DePorter, the president of Quantum Learning Network, says that there are many ways we can learn how to speak with good purpose. Here are 3...
1. a "No Tolerance to Gossip" policy, since gossip is exactly the opposite of speaking with good intent.
2. letting people know your intent when you speak. So, instead of the slightly sinister-sounding "Have you got a minute?", use visible communication and let them know what's on your mind, as in "Have you got a minute to talk about the Jones' contract...?"
3. hogging the conversation. So, if someone is telling you about a problem they've got, don't "me-too" them ("Yeah, I know what you mean. The same thing happened to me...") and don't give them your solutions ("If I were you, I'd..."). Listen to them and let them know you're listening.
Otherwise, Say Nothing
Marshall Thurber, the real estate mogul, has a rule in his office: "If it doesn't serve, don't say it." When he finds anyone breaking this rule, with gossip, negativity, or not thinking before opening their mouth, the culprit has to put a $20 in the charity box.
The result is not only that people stop saying things that are hurtful, malicious, or just plain unnecessary. They stop thinking them too.