Magazine article Work & Family Life

Give the 'Feel, Felt, Found' Formula a Try

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Give the 'Feel, Felt, Found' Formula a Try

Article excerpt

We all know smart people who have great technical skills and are experts in their fields, but they don't get along well with their employees, coworkers or managers. All too often, they are ineffective as members or leaders of teams and they are not as respected as they could or should be in their organizations.

One reason for this is that they are not very good communicators. In fact, communication is a skill many of us can use some help with.

As the management guru Peter Drucker wrote, communication is responsible for 60 percent of all of our problems. So how do we get better at listening and talking so we will hear and be heard more effectively?

Here are some ideas:

Stop talking. "When the mouth is engaged, the ears are out of gear," says professional development expert Wolf Rinke, PhD.

Focus on the other person. When you're having a conversation with another person, focus on what he or she is saying, and don't think about what and how you're going to answer. We have all read this advice before, of course. The challenge is to really try doing it.

Show the other person you are listening. Remove distractions. Silence your phone. Make and try to maintain eye contact. Lean slightly toward the person who is talking. By all means, don't attempt to catch someone else's eye or check out what else is going on around you.

Show empathy. At different points in the conversation, say "I understand," "I know what you're saying," "I see" or "I'm with you."

Test whether you heard the other person correctly. Summarize it: "Did I understand you correctly that we agreed to...?" Avoid asking repeatedly, "Do you understand?" People don't like to say they didn't follow what you were saying.

Use the "feel, felt, found" formula. To be more persua- sive, try: "I know how you feel. I felt the same way before I found out about..." (See the tinted box below for other "win-win" outcomes from Wolf Rinke's book Winning Management. …

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