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Favorite Communication Operating Principals

Susan Dunn -- Interpersonal skills are part of emotional intelligence and can be learned. Become aware of your communication style and work to improve it.

Virginia Sapir, a psychologist and pioneer in family counseling, wrote: "Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him."

With this in mind, I present some my favorite Communication Operating Principals.

1. "In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of." -- George Miller

2. "The first law of communication is: Assume you have been misunderstood." -- Source Unknown

3. "Men can take up to seven hours longer [than women] to process complex emotive data. [They] will not know what they feel at the moment of feeling and will take longer to figure it out. [They] may not be able to put their feelings in words -- if they choose a verbal strategy at all." -- Michael Gurian, author of What Could He Be Thinking

4. "Verbal confrontation is as natural to men as walking or breathing, and as unconscious." -- Suzette Haden Elgin, author of The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense

5. "There is a libraryful of research to indicate that logic is almost useless as a way of convincing people of anything." -- Suzette Haden Elgin

6. "Never use Hedges ('I know you'd never let me, but --'). They are exactly equivalent to wearing a big sign that say 'Please kick me -- I would love to be a victim.'" -- Suzette Haden Elgin

7. "If a man truly wants to communicate with his wife, he must enter her world of emotions." -- Gary Smalley

8. "For parlor use, the vague generality is a life saver." -- George Ade

9. "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." -- Peter Drucker

10. "Sympathetic people often don't communicate well. They back reflected images which hide their own depths." -- George Eliot

11. "If you can always be taken by surprise because you have no idea what verbal aggression is or how to spot it, you are an ideal target." -- Suzette Haden Elgin

12. "The genius of communication is the ability to be both totally honest and totally kind at the same time." -- John Powell

Whether we're communicating at work, socially, or in an intimate relationship, and whether we're communicating thoughts or feelings, it's a strategy, a choice we make in an effort to accomplish something. And, it's good to remember -- if you're there, you're communicating SOMETHING, whether you mean to or not.

Interpersonal skills are part of emotional intelligence and can be learned. Become aware of your communication style and work to improve it.

Susan Dunn, M.A., Psychology, is an Emotional Intelligence Coach. Visit her site at for more on coaching, Internet courses, and ebooks around emotional intelligence for career, relationships, transitions, resilience, personal, and professional development. Email her at for a free ezine.

© 2005 Susan Dunn

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