By: Bruce Burke

Looking at the title of this piece, you may wonder why we would choose “communication” as the topic of a Focus Point of the Week. After all, One on One is about helping people attain their health and fitness goals. Indeed, that is exactly why we are focusing on it. Poor communication inevitably causes problems and stress that, unlike many of the other “curveballs” life throws at us, are totally preventable. It is also a critical component to having a successful training experience here at One on One.

Keep it simple.

For most of us, our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers are extremely important. The significance of those relationships is what makes them so rewarding, but also what can make them stressful. Much of the stress comes from the negative consequences of simple, easily avoidable misunderstandings. None of us are mind readers, and our assumptions and unfulfilled expectations often breed resentment. Frankly, it is unfair to do so when such an obvious solution is available: simple communication. In order to know what another person’s expectations are of you, you should simply ask. Likewise, make your expectations of others explicitly understood through verbal communication rather than assuming they are clear.

Good communication shows deeper level of caring. We generally choose to communicate very little with people we aren’t especially fond of. So why would we ever let that happen with people we genuinely care about? Every time we engage another in meaningful communication, we are making a “deposit” in our “relationship account”. We make an even bigger deposit by simply listening. Listening with a genuine intent to understand is the most important component to being an excellent communicator.

Practice makes perfect.

It’s also important to recognize that communication is something we all need to work on. Out of the hundreds of people we have interviewed for jobs over the years, none have thought of themselves as poor communicators! People generally seem to think of good communication as simply having good verbal skills. Verbal skills are important, but there are other equally important skills/techniques that are necessary to be an effective communicator. Practicing these techniques can help cut down on the stress that negatively affects your health. Putting these same techniques to work with your trainer can ensure that you’re getting the best possible support and results from your sessions here at One on One. To that end, consider the following techniques for ensuring smooth communication in any relationship:

  • Be proactive. It won’t matter how great your verbal skills are if you are only using them to react to a situation/problem. Make expectations clear and understand what is expected of you from the beginning.
  • Be clear and concise. In order to be understood, you first need to have a clear idea of what you want to say. Express that idea clearly, avoiding wordiness.
  • Listen. You will never be a good communicator if you don’t make a conscious effort to be a better listener. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and known that they were formulating their reply rather than trying to understand you? It’s not too attractive, is it? As I mentioned earlier, seek first to understand.
  • Restate for understanding. Never leave an important communication without being certain you fully understand what was discussed and are on the same page with the other person. Summarizing your understanding of the conversation and any action-items that may have been discussed is a great way to do this.
  • Do not avoid uncomfortable, but necessary, communications. No one cherishes this idea, but it is extremely important that we deal with reality, even when that means confronting awkward or upsetting situations. More often than not, the consequences of avoiding an uncomfortable interaction are far more difficult than the interaction itself.

There are two keys to successfully engaging in a difficult communication. The first is to fully understand where the other person is coming from. The second is to avoid the desire to have them agree with you; you simply can’t control that. All you can control is the delivery, which will invariably be compromised if you start down the path of insisting that they agree with you.

Good communication creates an environment where inspiration, trust, creative ideas, and problem solving can flourish. It also shows that we care, reduces stress, improves our overall enjoyment and well-being, and fosters good relationships. Inventory your communication skills today to see how you can make them better. You’ll be glad you did!