How-to: Communicate More Effectively

02/18/2007  //  5 Comments   //   tags: ,

I knew a psychiatrist once who had a unique way of communicating with his patients and enabling them to express their thoughts. As a non-native English speaker, his accent also played a role. I won't be teaching you how to speak with any foreign accents today, but I will give you some practical strategies for asking questions and making the most of anything that comes out of your mouth.

Here are a few tips to help you communicate like him. First, when you are about to pose a question, don't just come out and say it. Start with something like, "I appreciate that, I wonder...", or "That is very interesting..." Once that is covered, you can start the opening part of the question: "How did you...", "What was it...", "Is there something...", or whatever is best for the question you are eventually going to ask. If you can possibly delay or add seemingly redundant language during this phase, do so without hesitation. For example, instead of "How did you..", make it "How did you come to really kind of..." This is a small nuance that you will pick up with time, and really it's just a baby step when you see where we are going with this. Don't forget to hold back the urge to ask anything just yet!!!

Psychiatry cartoon

Now, this part is crucial!! Add several repetitions of the following phrases in any random order: "that really just absolutely", "kind of really", "just kind of absolutely", "that you know just", "really kind of". This is the core set of phrases you should work with, and don't worry if you feel like you are saying some of them twice or even three times. The person you are talking to won't realize this; rather, they will be intrigued by the care with which are are posing the question and will be coming up with their best possible response. Once you have done this for about 10 to 20 seconds, that should be enough, and you can go ahead and ask your question.

AND THEN, end all of your questions with "and everything." This is the master stroke that will drive your ability to engage people through the roof. It makes anything that was just said seem all-important, and people will take notice even if they weren't listening, trying to remember the last few words you have uttered. I can't emphasize this enough: say "and everything" after EVERYTHING you say, it makes all the difference.

To review, I'll give an example of how to pose a question using these techniques:

"That's very interesting, now I'm wondering how all of these kinds of things really played into the situation where you know you just kind of really absolutely came to this point where you were just feeling like you should absolutely, kind of DO something about what you've been really struggling with and everything."

Note this question does not end with a question mark, because it was not actually a question. Another thing is that you tend to forget what you were asking when you use these techniques. It doesn't matter either, as long as you can elicit some kind of a response, it's fine.

Practice using these techniques whenever you interact with people, and you'll be surprised at how much more engaging you become to anyone within earshot!


ok so i was reading this thinking ‘this is such a load of crap… those phrases (like inserting ‘kind of absolutely’ where ever in conversation) will just make you look bumbling and inarticulate!’ then i saw you labeled it as ‘comedy.’ phew! hahaha

— susan · May 2, 05:29 AM · #

Hehe gotcha ;)

Andrew Swihart · May 2, 07:56 AM · #

that just got better and better, all the way to the demonstration !! too funny — will be staying tuned in for more of the same !!

— you know who · Oct 21, 06:10 AM · #

It was interestingly funny but I’ve been struggling with it and everything.

— stanard swihart · Oct 21, 09:17 AM · #

This is a great April Fool’s post

Jacob Share · Mar 31, 10:50 PM · #

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