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Are You Helpful Or Hurtful In Your Communications? Here’s Exactly How To Tell

Source | Forbes : By Kathy Caprino

I spend a good deal of my time every day writing, speaking and training, so becoming an effective communicator is something very important to me. Despite my experience, as a former corporate VP, therapist, and now coach and leadership trainer, I don’t always get it right. Not by a long shot. And when I blow it, it’s really hard to face.

In the past six months, I’ve attempted to focus on understanding more deeply what makes our communications helpful, productive and inspiring, versus hurtful, damaging and bridge-burning.

Here are five ways to tell if your communication has crossed the line into hurtful:

1. It’s all about you.

I’ve had to have some tough talks with a number of colleagues in the past few months regarding projects we’re working on, deadlines we’re chasing, and outcomes we’re striving to achieve. It’s been clear to all of us that we’ve missed some very important goals and milestones. But the question isn’t “Who blew it?” It’s “How are we going to handle this, together, and not leave body parts lying in our wake?” 

Hurtful communication attacks a problem with guns blazing – searching for someone specific to blame and criticize. Helpful communication isn’t one-sided; it’s empathic, open and free-flowing. Sure, you can state your case plainly and directly, and not beat around the bush. But if you’re having your meeting or your Skype or phone call only to take someone down, you’re going to do some nasty damage.

The more productive way to approach a challenge or problem is to go in with the desired outcome strongly in mind, of forging a stronger alliance with the parties involved (if at all possible), so that all can feel inspired to be more open, committed and collaborative in achieving your mutual goals.

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