3 Critical Communication Choices for You

This is the essence of a talk I’m giving Monday at the College of Charleston Faculty House. It’s about leveraging language to serve you better. Language is a tool. You can use it to build up people, including yourself, or bring yourself and/or others down.

Here are some choices you probably don’t usually think about, but the way you decide to be clear, to interpret and to encourage impacts your every experience.

1. Choose clarity. Being clear about who you are and what you want is an ongoing process. But the more clear you are, the better and faster your decisions. Sitting on the fence seems to be the right way, keeping your options open, but truly it’s an awkward and unproductive way of living. What helps me sharpen my clarity is my journal. Being basically lazy, my favorite journal posts are lists. I’m constantly writing lists of what I love about my life as it is presently constructed, and what I would like to experience differently. With these lists, clarity emerges. You can also ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this?” “If I were clear, which way would I go?”

2. Choose your interpretation. The most important thing I learned in 6 years of graduate studies in Communication is the flexible nature of reality and the power of language to shape our perceptions. One healthy habit is separating events from the story about them. Another is not to settle on the interpretation that seems obvious (“Obviously he’s a jerk because he didn’t hire me”) — look for one that serves you better (“Obviously there is something better for me out there.)

3. Choose to encourage. It’s probably second-nature to encourage others, don’t forget to encourage yourself. Ultimately, you want to be your own coach and cheerleader – someone who’s always there for you. Encouragement is part of of love and of leadership, it’s something to live as well as do for others. It’s also fun and rewarding!

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