People Skills | Robert Bolton

Summary of: People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts
By: Robert Bolton

Introduction

Are you ready to revolutionize the way you communicate with others? In ‘People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts’ by Robert Bolton, you’ll uncover the 12 common communication roadblocks that hinder effective communication and learn how to overcome them. Delve into the three major roadblock categories – judging, sending solutions, and avoiding others’ concerns – and gain a comprehensive understanding of how listening and asserting can help you forge stronger relationships. By the time you finish this summary, you’ll be equipped with an arsenal of strategies to enhance your interpersonal exchanges and lead a life of improved connection and fulfillment.

Overcoming Communication Roadblocks

Learn the three main categories of communication roadblocks and how to avoid them to achieve better communication.

From a young age, most people are taught inadequate communication tools that lead to flawed ways of relating to others. To achieve successful interpersonal exchanges, it is essential to unlearn the habitual 12 common communication roadblocks. These roadblocks make people either more compliant or argumentative and undermine the self-esteem of all parties involved.

The roadblocks fall under three categories: judging, sending solutions, and avoiding the other’s concern. Judging involves criticizing, name-calling, or diagnosing the other person, including the innocent-sounding praise. Sending solutions is about ordering, threatening, excessive/inappropriate questioning, or advising, which only the person expressing their problem can solve fully. Avoiding the other’s concern occurs when diverting the conversation, keeping the other person at an emotional distance with logical responses, or offering unhelpful reassurance.

It is vital to understand these roadblocks to avoid them and have better communication. By recognizing and replacing them with effective communication tools, one can achieve a successful interpersonal exchange that benefits all parties involved.

The Power of Listening

According to a study, people spend 70% of their waking hours communicating, with 45% of that time spent listening. However, society fails to prioritize listening skills, resulting in people neglecting to listen for deeper meaning. The author recommends focusing on small clusters of skills, such as attending, following, and reflecting, to improve listening abilities. Attending involves nonverbally showing that you are committed to understanding the speaker and can be practiced through body language, eye contact, and distance. Following involves paying attention to nonverbal cues and sending noncoercive invitations to talk. Reflecting means facilitating self-exploration through minimal encouragement and open-ended questions without agreeing or disagreeing. By improving listening skills, individuals can better understand others and connect on a deeper level.

Listen Effectively

Effective listening involves the use of various listening skills, including paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, reflecting meaning and summative reflection. This listening skill cluster is known as reflective listening. Paraphrasing involves relaying the essence of the speaker’s content in your own words. Reflecting feelings is when you relay the emotional crux of the speaker’s message. Reflecting meaning is when you combine the feelings and facts you’ve gleaned from the speaker’s message and provide a succinct response. Summative reflection is when you briefly restate the main themes and feelings of a longer conversation. These listening skills help to validate the speaker and assist them in moving towards a solution.

The Key to Strong Relationships: Balancing Listening and Asserting

Effective communication involves both listening and asserting. Assertion is a non-destructive form of communication that involves expressing one’s emotions, needs, and desires while respecting personal space. Assertion lies in the middle of the continuum between submission and aggression, making it the optimal method for building intimate relationships. To practice assertive communication, one can use three-part assertion messages that include a non-judgmental description of the behavior, an expression of one’s feelings, and a clarification of how the behavior affects them. Defending one’s personal space is not controlling or manipulative but rather a necessary step in establishing reasonable boundaries.

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