On Dr. Oz yesterday, he had a woman on the show who regularly yelled at her rambunctious brood of boys. He tested her heart rate and blood pressure to show her how her communication style was affecting her health. He actually said, "the way you are communicating to your family is literally killing you."
In this woman's defense, she wasn't a monster of a parent. Far from it. She was just a mom with active kids who don't listen. Any parent can relate. When the kids don't listen, we raise our voices to get their attention. We get frustrated and even angry. Medically measuring her body's response to this form of communication was an eye opener for her. She was putting herself at risk for a stroke!
Dr. Oz brought in a psychologist, Dr. Venus Nicolina (aka Dr. V) from Bravo's Real Housewives of New Jersey to get to the root of this mom's yelling. The mom admitted to yelling at her kids because they don't listen.
Dr. V's first question to the woman was simple but poignant.
"Were you listened to as a kid?"
The micro-expression on the woman's face indicated that she wasn't expecting that question. Her answer was a thoughtful "No".
She then recounted a particularly painful memory of not being heard as a kid. I can only presume the woman had braced herself for the fury that Dr. V was going to unleash on her. But it never came. Dr. V instead listened to the woman voice pain from long ago. By doing so, she got at the root of why this mom yells.
When I decided to have listening as the skill of the month, my goal was like Dr. V: to expose why this simple skill is often overlooked and to raise your awareness.
I don't want to be like the other resources online that give you the skill but make no real connection. I want to help you connect the dots in your life to see the the ways you can be better.
I suspect I will have more page views, shares, likes, and comments when conflict resolution or giving effective feedback is the skill of the month. Those skills are the most perceived needs.
But conflict resolution, feedback skills, and the rest of the interpersonal communication skills bundle all have one thing in common: effective listening is their foundation.
Listening is the Spanx of the communication world. Once you put it on, everything else goes over smoothly! TWEET THAT
Dr. V. gave the woman three ways to get her family to listen
1. In order to be heard, you have to listen!
She almost breezed right past this point as if it was a given. But let's pause for a minute and really examine it. How much time do you actually spend listening, verses just waiting until it's your turn to talk? People are smarter than you think they are. They can tell if you are really listening or if you are just waiting at the edge of the double dutch line waiting to jump in.
2. Lower your voice
Dr. V. noted that the more the woman yelled, the less her kids listened. They had conditioned themselves to ignore her elevated pitch. Dr. V suggested lowering her voice in order to get the kids attention. Public speaking coaches use this trick all the time. Lowering the volume of your voice commands attention. It brings emphasis to a point.
I am naturally soft spoken. I had to learn to project my voice in order to be heard. But if left to my own devices, I mumble. When I was a child, I noticed that people actually had to concentrate in order to hear what I had to say.
3. Give up the right to be right!
This was my favorite point because it addresses the biggest listening killer: PRIDE. Pride doesn't want to yield power to anything or anyone. It seeks to dominate and that obsession with dominating is a communication killer. Listening is a practical way you can prevent, even conquer, pride from taking over your life. Listening is a selfless act. It is almost one of the most powerful small acts you can do.
Dr. Oz took the time to talk about the negative effect bad communication skills can have on the human body. It would be wise of us to examine our habits to see where we can improve. As Leo Buscaglia says, don't underestimate this little skill because it has life changing power.
What bad communication habits could be raising your blood pressure?