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13 Communication Tricks To Stop Conversations From Feeling Mentally Draining

Chronic Evolution Issue 11

Hello! 👋 

Welcome to Issue 11 of the weekly Chronic Evolution newsletter, where I share mindfulness tips, tricks, and anecdotes to help you evolve your mindset in 5 minutes or less.

Let’s get right into it.

13 Communication Tricks To Stop Conversations From Feeling Mentally Draining

It was the end of the work day when I sent one last question to my old boss on Slack:

"Hey, is this email ready to go to editing, or does it need some revisions first?"

Her response? Yes. 

I resisted my urge to reply with the face-palm emoji and instead asked a clarifying question, only to wait far too long before getting an answer.

Poor communication is expensive – and not just in your professional life.

Communication problems are the number one reason for divorce, with a whopping 67.5% of failed marriages broken up over communication breakdowns.

But here's the good news – communication is a skill that can be learned.

Here are some quick tips on communicating mindfully that can be applied both in the workplace and in your personal life to help you speak with intention.

The burden of proof is on you

In a court case, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. It’s their job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant is guilty. It’s not the defense’s job to prove their client’s innocence.

When communicating, consider yourself the prosecution. The responsibility falls on you – and you alone – to communicate what you mean clearly. It’s not your listener’s job to have to guess or interpret your message.

Put down your Peter Pointer

It's easy for things to get heated when you're dealing with a challenging situation. Stress levels are rising, brows are sweating, and you're doing everything you can to avoid this coming down on you.

But what if we took blame out of the equation for a second? Would that help you get to the crux of the issue easier and faster? Probably.

When faced with a problem, focus on finding a solution in your discussions, not a scapegoat.

Consider your listener's appetite

No, I don't mean how hungry they are.

Appetite is a term used in Basecamp's Shape Up model to describe how much time a team has to handle a given task. It transforms the standard question, "How long will this take?" into, "How much time do we want to spend on this?"

Before engaging in a conversation, consider your listener's appetite for communication. Is it time for a story? Or time to get to the point?

Play the balance game

Take into account your listener’s level of familiarity with a given topic and adjust accordingly. That way, you're showing them you respect their time and expertise. Just be careful not to make assumptions about their level of understanding or leave people out of conversations.

You want to balance providing enough information with avoiding unnecessary explanations.

Let people take a breath

Men interrupt 33% more often when speaking with women than with other men.

There are all sorts of stuff we could unpack there. But that's not for this story.

For now, let's just focus on how to stop interrupting others. An easy thing to try is pausing before speaking. If there’s a break in the conversation, the speaker might be taking a breath or gathering their thoughts. Pausing helps ensure they’re done before having your say.

Confusion ≠ action

Confusing messages get ignored. Making things easy for your reader will increase your chances of being heard. This means:

  • Separating multiple concepts into lists or bullet points.

  • If replying to a list, structure your response the same way the message came to you.

Be a good human

Say good morning. Greeting someone before diving into work is just good manners, and you're never too busy to be kind.

Speaking ≠ being heard

You'll always place more importance on what you have to say than your listener will.

That makes it easy for you to remember saying it. For them, it might be the ninth thing they're trying to keep track of that morning. It's gonna go in one ear and out the other without sticking.

Bottom line: Don’t assume someone hears something just because you said it.

Follow the rule of three

Want to maximize your chances of being heard? Share important messages three times in three ways.

Why three times? Because people need to hear things approximately three times before fully understanding them.

Why three ways? Because repetition helps us transfer information from our short-term memory into our long-term memory so we can retain it. That could be verbally stating it in-person, following up with a text, and sending an email.

Depending on what you're discussing, it might also mean explaining one concept in three different ways. You could give a scientific explanation, then restate it again in layman's terms, then relate it back to something your listener is familiar with in an analogy.

Don’t be an information bomber

Our brains can only hold so much information at once.

It's like trying to shove ten people into a tiny bathroom. You'll push and shove until all but a few people are kicked out of the room.

Our short-term memory is a lot like that bathroom. Science says we can only hold three to five ideas in there at once.

Sharing three things well – and ensuring everyone involved in the conversation understands them – is better than bombarding your listener with 15 different things all at once, leaving them so overwhelmed they remember nothing.

Communicate with the end in mind

Picture this: you’ve had a long day, you're tired, and you're being short with the person you’re talking to. Coming out of this discussion, the listener will feel frustrated, confused about what you want, and hesitant to ask clarifying questions.

And on top of that, there’s no guarantee you even got the right message across.

Before a conversation even begins, slow down, take a breath, and consider how you want the listener to feel by the end of it.

Close the loop

Silence is confusing, especially when communicating via text. If you understand something, acknowledge that and let the speaker know. Don’t make someone guess your response.

The one word to rule them all

Did you know that one word can dramatically increase the chances of people granting your request?

That magic word is because. (And in most cases, the reason following “because” doesn’t even matter.)

This was all discovered on a college campus when some savvy researchers manipulated a long line waiting to use a copy machine. Check out the Copy Machine Study if you want all the details.

Bottom line: Share the reason why when communicating an important point. It might just help you get your way.

Final thoughts

If you remember nothing else from this post, remember this: Being a good communicator is 20% skill and 80% compassion.

Be kind, consider your listener, and put yourself in their shoes. That will go a long way to helping you choose your words thoughtfully and intentionally.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

– Stephen Covey

To your chronic evolution,


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