As we head into Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to invite you think about your communication memories and how they may be serving you. Each of us has a unique communication history defined by the many choices we make, our emotional responses, and our ability to process through our conversations to separate the useful learnings from those that are useless.
Processing communication memories is essential for engaging in effective communication. If you’re still angry about the way your boss criticized you at the team meeting last week, it’s very difficult to have a fresh conversation about quarterly projections. Conversely, public praise for your amazing plan can leave you with an afterglow that can charge you up for weeks to come. So how do you manage those heady emotions? Use the suggestions below as a guide.
Start by recognizing how often you replay the scene in your head. If you have the conversation on “repeat” you need to figure out why and deal with it. This may take nothing more than self-discipline to redirect your mind to a more productive idea. If there are issues to be resolved, make a plan and take care of it. If you’re reminded of the communication memory briefly and it helps to center you or inform your next move, you’re all good.
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your emotional response to the memory when it pops into your head? Does it make you exceedingly joyful? Do a quick reality check to verify that your joy is contributing to your effectiveness. If the memory ignites intense hostility, you have some work to do to process through the communication experience. Identify the elements that trigger you and deal with them in a constructive manner. If someone called you out for a lack of skills, decide whether or not you think they have a point. Resolving these issues for yourself can help drain the negative emotions and get you thinking in a healthier, more productive direction.
Your communication memories can intentionally be put to work to help your communication efforts. Feeling inarticulate or inept? Pull up the memory of that time you navigated a tricky communication situation with grace. Need to get fired up for a sales presentation? Go back to that moment when the whole room was with you as you walked them through the new features on your key product. Remember the applause and the sense of connection you felt from well-delivered communication and leverage it for the next challenge.
Sometimes the memories of bad experiences protect us, sometimes they just cost energy that would be better spent elsewhere. Likewise, good memories can be a time-sucking diversion or a fantastic motivational touchstone to keep us moving forward. One way to reduce the negative communication memories is to get better at dealing with disagreements effectively.
Talk to you next week,
PS: Looking forward to joining Michelle Perkins on her Limit Free Life radio show one week from today. On May 30, we be talking language, leadership and (self-imposed) limits at 1pm Pacific. Click here for more info and to listen in.