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UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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January 2011: Language Series Practice #1 - “Speak for the sake of the listener.”

In this month and the several months to follow, we will look at language and its role in our relationships. Before we venture more deeply into this territory, it’s important to shift our perspective regarding language – that it is not only descriptive and generative, but as we are always in relationship with others, language should be designed for the listener. While this might sound like an odd concept, we all know the difference in conversing with someone who is self-focused and likes to hear themselves talk versus someone who sees conversation as a shared adventure – one where the goal is deepening the relationship and drawing the other out. If we are honest, we are likely both of these characters at times in various relationships. Learning to be more intentional and listener-focused will make us more effective communicators and will aid in strengthening our professional and personal relationships.

In the next month, become more curious about the needs of your listener in your daily conversations and hold the hold the perspective: “My speaking is for the sake of the listener.” Notice how your language shifts as a result and pay attention to the shifts that occur in the relationship.