Do you believe everything you’re told about communication?

A few years ago I met Richard Mullender, a hostage negotiator. Richard is one of the most effective communicators I know.

When Richard trains people, he talks about the Myths of Communication. These are things that we believe are true, but when we look more closely at them we discover that they are only partially true, or not really true at all.

There are five myths. Today I will just share one of them.

We can control what comes out of our mouths.

It’s clear, isn’t it? If I am saying something, I am in control of what I’m saying. Well, actually, no.

The thing is sometimes we very carefully control what we say—but we actually do this quite rarely. Most of the time our subconscious mind controls what we say.

Think about it. Have you ever listened to someone speaking who is thinking about their every word? How do they sound? It’s not natural, is it?

At the beginning of an important presentation you might have your first two or three sentences worked out, but after that, your mouth switches into automatic and just talks.

I can hear you wondering why this is important.

The thing is that when we speak, whenever we speak and our subconscious mind is in control, which is most of the time, we give away information. Sometimes we give away information without realising it. This is not usually a problem but sometimes we let something slip that we didn’t mean to say.

This means that if we can keep someone talking, get them relaxed and not thinking about their words, and if we listen carefully, we can learn a lot about them. We can learn about their values and beliefs. We can learn about their motivations. We can learn to ‘hear’ the things that they didn’t know they were telling us.

We can then use this information, ethically of course, in negotiations or persuasion.

Richard Mullender regards listening as the most important communication skill. In his book Dispelling the Myths and Rediscovering the Lost Art of Listening (available as a Kindle Ebook from Amazon) Richard explains how we can learn to listen more effectively. And by doing so, we can learn to persuade and influence more effectively.

Attending Richard’s courses opened my eyes, and my ears, to a whole different level of thinking. The book I mentioned in the previous paragraph is the first in a series. There will be more coming out over the next few months.

If you’re interested in doing one of Richard’s courses, please send me an email.


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