Thinking Tool Box | How can I be a better communicator?

I have a confession to make. I find it difficult to communicate. I used to think it is because my English is not good enough. But time and time again I observe people with poor English have a good time talking and understanding each other. So it’s not about the language skill I have or have not, it’s about understanding and expressing opinions.

I,therefore, summarise the following formulas to help me understand others better and myself to express better.

Before I open my mouth, I need to decide if:

1. I’m seeking solutions to a particular problem.
Formula: description + right questions + summary

Example 1: What’s for dinner

I’m hungry and I feel like pizza tonight (description) + Would you like some? (Questions to take other people into consideration) + “Yes – Pizza tonight” / “No – what about burger? Ok, – burger tonight/ or Ok, you have burger while I will enjoy my pizza.” (Summary)

Example 2: Calling customer service

I can’t login to my account. I’ve tried xxx on xxx page but failed. (description) + Can you help me check what’s wrong and what should I do? (Questions) + “solutions from customer service team xxxxx” so next time if I encounter the same problem again, I can xxxx, right? (Summary)

2. I’m trying to draw more information.
Formula: explanation + more specific questions

Example: interview

I’m trying to understand your previous role better. (Explaination) + How many cases have you, personally, done in one quarter? / What’s your role in your team and how much contributions did you make? Etc.

3. I intend to express my opinion.
Formula: opinion + elaboration + examples + summary + confirm

Example: I don’t feel like fried chicken tonight.(opinion) + I just had it this afternoon. (Elaboration) + Last time I have two fried chicken meals in a row and I had stomachache. (Examples) + So not tonight. (Summary) + How about something else? (Sometimes I don’t need to verbally confirm that the person I’m speaking to get the message because I can easily tell if we are face to face by body language and facial expression. This time I can suggest something else instead.)

4. I disagree with the opinion.
Formula: the part I agree with + the part I disagree with + reasons + some kind words

Example: You are totally right about your girlfriend is a woman and have a womb. (agree) + But that doesn’t mean she has the obligation to bear children with you or, in fact, with any man if she doesn’t want to. (Disagree) + It’s her body and her free will to decide for herself. (Reasons) + But of course, you as a man can express your wishes. (Some kind words. )

These are what I want to share today. I wish you have a good communications today and the days to come.

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