Say the right thing at the right time!’ 

According to ground-breaking neurological research, you can ‘train’ yourself to speak and listen in a way that stimulates sympathy and trust in the brain of the person you’re talking to. Think how valuable that is in communication!

Here are some proven principles to help you do it:

(1) Breathe deeply and stretch before speaking. When you’re handling a stressful situation, remaining calm is essential. Stress generates uptightness, uptightness leads to anger, and anger shuts down your ability to get your point across. So take a few moments to breathe deeply, while counting slowly to five. It’s also been established that things like stretching your neck muscles and yawning change your brain in ways that measurably improve your communication skills. We are ‘wonderfully made’ 

(2) Think encouraging thoughts. ‘…As he thinks in his heart, so is he…’. Any negative thought you harbour can interfere with the parts of your brain used in language processing, listening and speech, which can lead to defensiveness and distrust. Neurological studies found that thinking positive thoughts about the other person, or yourself, or the topic at hand, can help you to achieve success in your personal and business relationships.

(3) Seal it with a smile. Your face reveals your feelings.  Research shows that pleasing memories and thoughts of people you love create facial expressions that convey kindness, compassion and interest, stimulating trust and openness in others.

Pleasant words are…healing…’

For effective communication:

(1) Make use of the ‘eye-gate’. Eye contact stimulates the brain’s social-network circuits, decreasing the stress hormone and increasing the sympathy hormone. Intentionally looking at the other person enables you to quickly respond to the seven basic facial expressions – anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, contempt and happiness. These are keys; use them.

(2) Express appreciation. The first words you speak set the tone for the entire interaction. A single compliment can create trust. Loyola University researchers found that when people in conversation are in basic agreement, interactions between them are experienced as mutually satisfying. Alternatively, disagreement immediately creates defensiveness in the listener. So begin each conversation with a compliment and end it with a phrase that conveys genuine appreciation. Research demonstrates that remarks made at the end of an interaction are especially effective because they linger in the hearer’s mind. ‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul (emotions) and healing to the bones.’

(3) Keep it brief. Our conscious minds retain only a tiny bit of information, which is ‘booted out’ of our memory as new information is uploaded. So it’s better to speak a sentence or two at a time, then take a breath. ‘…let your words be few’. If you think a lengthy conversation is needed, let your listener know in advance. This prepares them to focus and ignore the intrusiveness of their own inner self-talk.

We know from social psychology research that speaking gently and slowly can deepen the listener’s openness and respect for you. The tone of your voice matters a lot. The University of Houston did a conclusive study that found if you lower your voice and speak slowly, your listener will respond with greater openness and trust.