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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work – Anywhere!: Including the “12-Day Communication Challenge!”
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“Good relationships,” writes Bento C. Leal III, “don’t happen by accident or wishful thinking. They are created, developed over time, and good communication is an essential part of the fabric that creates those relationships.” That’s where his 2017 Amazon bestseller “4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication” comes in. Simple and practical, it aims to help people improve their communication skills to build better relationships in love, life and work. So, get ready to learn the core fundamentals of successful interpersonal communication and prepare to “take your relationships to a whole new level of intimacy, satisfaction and success.”
As defined by most dictionaries, “empathy” is “the capacity to understand and share the feelings of another.” As defined by Leal, it is “the ability to vicariously put yourself in another person’s shoes and try to see from their point of view, their world, their perspective.” Notice from the outset the subtle, but all-important difference between those two words, capacity and ability. Whereas “capacity” suggests that empathy is something you either have or don’t have, “ability” implies that empathy is something you can acquire and develop. That’s what Leal firmly believes in. In fact, his course on effective communication is deeply rooted in this belief.
For the sake of clear terminological differentiation, it’s important here to point out the difference between two more words – “empathy” and “sympathy.” Most people tend to confuse the two, even though they mean something quite dissimilar. Namely, “sympathy” is the feeling of being sorry for someone, particularly if they have experienced some misfortune or a loss of some kind. Empathy goes beyond that. It means “feeling with” or “feeling into” someone’s misfortune. When you’re expressing your condolences to someone who has lost a dear member of their family, you’re sympathizing with their pain. However, when you can’t stop crying yourself despite not knowing the deceased person, you’re empathizing.
“Empathy,” writes Leal, “is a powerful state of mind, but it’s not something we try to pound into ourselves, it’s something we want to cultivate and let out – it’s our capacity to have compassion and concern for ourselves and others. Empathy is really an internal motivator to be a caring person who is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of others, as well as one’s own wellbeing.” Empathy is also where effective communication begins. After all, unless you care about what someone is saying, you’re not really communicating with them, and you’re definitely not sharing their feelings. That’s why empathy is “the essential relationship ingredient” and the core element of all four keys to effective communication.
Effective communication begins long before you’ve established contact with someone and opened your mouth to utter the first syllable. That’s because effective communication actually begins with something Leal calls “empathic awareness skill” which is “our internal perspective, our frame of mind, the lens, the heart through which we see ourselves and others.” Put in the simplest terms possible, it’s “the ‘why’ of communication” and “the foundational skill for all the other skills.” It’s also something that can be developed – through the following four steps:
In the perennial bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey remarked the following: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” When you listen with the intent to understand, you’re listening empathically. To master the art of empathic listening, follow these five steps:
Empathic speaking is the answer to the following important question: “How can I say what I want to say in a way that accurately expresses my thoughts and feelings, and at the same time, increases the likelihood the other person will be open to hear and receive it, whether it’s a pleasant and agreeable topic or something we disagree on, or even something I’m upset about?” Empathic speaking encompasses the following five steps:
The final key to effective communication is the empathic dialogue, which encompasses going back and forth with someone else, skipping between being an empathic listener and empathic speaker. So, essentially, creating an empathic dialogue means putting empathic speaking and empathic listening together. To achieve this in real-life circumstances, you first need to practice it in a simulated environment.
To achieve this, first find an appropriate partner and decide on a dialogue topic. The tougher the topic, the better the training. If the other person is your spouse or your romantic partner, you can discuss anything from life goals to child rearing, from spending more time together to relatives and friends. If the other person is your colleague, then choose something like office frustrations, work-life balance or aspirations. Either way, try to explain to your prospective conversationalist why both of you will benefit from the practice. Then, schedule time for the discussion. Go through each of the steps. Correct each other. It’s important to take this practice as seriously as you would any other educational experience.
Now, let’s round things off with a tip from the pros. If you want to encourage and support the people in your life as often as possible, one of the best things you can do is express the 3 A’s frequently and with sincerity: applaud, admire, appreciate. Always say what it is that you applaud, admire or appreciate the person for. If you can, send an email or a letter from time to time with similar content. Life is too short to not use every opportunity to put a smile on the faces of the people that you like and love.
Even though self-published, “4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication” became a word-of-mouth publishing phenomenon in 2017, and even made it to the top of several Amazon bestseller lists. As users say, the book’s power lies in its simplicity. Indeed, it is a brief and straightforward manual, not to mention applicable and useful. However, don’t expect anything original here. On the contrary, in fact: there’s a good chance you won’t find anything that you don’t already know in Leal’s book. So, not that great for insights, but good as a desk-side companion.
Everyone has their own issues and concerns. Moreover, as Robin Williams said once, ”Everyone is also fighting a battle you know nothing about. So, be empathic and kind. As often as you can.”
Bento C. Leal is a certified relationship skills trainer. Ever since 2007, he has worked with a non-sectarian, non-profit organization in California. In addition, he has developed his own communication skills workshop, titled “Enri... (Read more)
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