The last but not least of the skills that we need for effectively communicating, is one that is simple but profound.
“Emotional Awareness”, a skill that is related to our understanding of the emotional state of ourselves and the situation. It is a reflection of how we identify with the situation based on our interpretation of our emotional state to that of the conversation and the speaker (or speakers).
Imagine a situation where you had skipped breakfast and and you enter a restaurant at lunch time, famished and tired.The waiter busy with other customers overlook your presence and continues serving other customers despite your attempts to contact him. Now you have a choice of being irritated or get his attention courteously.As mentioned in the previous articles on this subject, you choose to decide how successful you want your experience to be. In this case, your objective is to have a good lunch and leave.
Should you choose to get angry and gruffly call the waiter to you table, you may defend your behavior by believing that you deserved to be paid attention to especially as you are so hungry or that you are important or due to many more reasons . But should you for a moment concern yourself with the current busy state of the waiter you may forgive his neglect of your presence in the restaurant and comment sympathetically as he takes your order, “I can see you are having a very busy day. You could take your goodwill one step further by giving him a generous tip – to ease the burden of a hard day.
Your emotional sensitivity in a situation would help you tremendously if you pay attention to the situation and nuances of the conversation you are having with another.
A couple of months back, I decided to conduct an experiment to experience how my choice of behavior will affect my interaction with people and environment conditions.
I went to an office, strode self consciously, looked listlessly, disinterestedly at the receptionist, murmured (without making eye contact) my reason for my visit to their office.
She scarcely glanced at me, let alone give me a smile. Pointing to the seating at the reception, she said, “We’ll call you, you can wait there” and went back to what she was doing.
The next day, I went to another office. Striding into the reception, I looked relaxed and self assured. I smiled politely at those who were seated and warmly smiled at the receptionist before asking, “How are you today?”
The receptionist, immediately looked at me, smiled and warmly replied. I remarked on her attractive smile to which she thanked me happily before asking me, “Maam, how can I help you?”
To my response, she bid me politely to be seated and asked me whether I would like to enjoy some refreshments as I wait.
The starkness in the above two experiences is too powerful to ignore
Desiring to comprehend other’s feelings or state of mind helps you to empathize better with them. Furthermore, awareness of your emotional state just before a conversation helps you to understand your emotions better, for eg: Is your current mood affecting you negatively? Are you anxious about tomorrow’s interview? Are you in a hurry to finish the conversation because you need to take your child for his cricket coaching?
Understanding your state of emotions, enables you to make efforts in being more motivated and interested in the conversation. Your personal dislike or affection towards the person you are speaking to can then be effectively ignored, because you choose to. Sometimes, being in a situation that requires you to convey an unpleasant information can be easier if you communicate clearly while keeping your emotions at check.
There was an incident when I had to convey to a student’s parent about his negligence towards his work. It was not pleasant and I could sense the defensiveness in the parent. However, I refused to be drawn into a conversation that would benefit neither of us and more importantly nor the child. The child whom we both were concerned about.
The parent concluded his conversation with me cordially but with an evident lack of warmth. I decided to ignore that and assured the parent that just as she will support him from home, I look forward to encouraging him in class and his improvement.
A few weeks later, the student not just started taking care regarding his work, he worked with interest and enthusiasm. My appreciation to his parent for motivating him from home just as I was keen in supporting him in class.
As you give more focus to the emotional awareness quotient in communication, you develop your relationships, you begin to see the value of creativity and you enjoy finding methods to solve issues amicably and diplomatically (as much as possible).
By choosing to be emotionally aware, you are also aware of the negative emotions that you may be harboring in you as you communicate.
Sense of betrayal, trust, anger, dislike and distress are emotions that we need to accept and come to terms with. Do not force yourself to behave in a manner that you cannot identify at a personal level. Be rational in your interaction. Keep it honest yet courteous and polite. An exaggerated display of warmth while you experience completely contradictory emotions would only give you stress and make the communication process more unpleasant for yourself.
Like any skill, this is a skill that can be acquired with conscious and steady attention and an honest appraisal of your feelings and your thoughts.
To conclude, the positive impact of effective communication skills on our life is undeniable. As a component that adds to our development and growth, effective communication skills improves our well being and happiness. It helps us become better motivators, leaders, become gregarious, positive, effective conflict mediators and become more sensitive and compassionate to others and their emotional states.