Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko
It’s hard to get much done in life without communicating to another human. In fact, when you imagine your ultimate dream life, and how you’re going to achieve it, you must admit: none of it will EVER happen without communication.
I mean, unless your dream is to be a hermit… If that’s you, go ahead and stop reading right now, for everyone else, you must understand how to communicate like successful people do, if you wish to be successful. And the truth is, GOOD communication is almost like a cheat code for success in life.
But frankly — if you are bad at this ONE thing, it can completely block you from all kinds of success, too. In fact, not communicating properly can make your life miserable. But proper communication can also make you millions, and give you a perfect relationship. It’s THAT powerful.
That’s why we’re about to dive into what’s maybe the most important topic I’ve ever written about. Let’s start at the beginning. Successful people all know the answer to THIS question:
Why Do We Communicate?
It’s important to know why humans communicate — so you can be the best at it. And the answer is way simpler than you may think.
Often we forget WHY we’re communicating - while we’re doing it. And THAT causes some of the most unnecessary pain human existence has ever seen. I’m not joking. It can get rough. So WHY do we really communicate?
You can come up with any number of reasons, but the truth is — there are only three core reasons we communicate. And any reason you can think of simply falls into one of the three categories below. Here they are:
To create or enhance a positive feeling.
To get out of - or get rid of - a negative feeling.
- To create a new result.
By the way - why do you want to create a new result? Because you have a belief that says:
“If I change the result, I’ll feel BETTER.”
You’ll believe you will feel good when you get that new result. So really, we could take all three of the above reasons and chunk them down into ONE reason:
We Communicate To FEEL GOOD.
That’s really why we communicate. Name ANY communication. It can be boiled down to the desire to feel better. For example:
If you’re already feeling good, why would you share with someone that you are feeling good? Because it makes you feel even BETTER to share it.
If you’re feeling crappy, why do you want to tell someone about it? Because you think telling them about it will help get rid of the negative feeling—and make it at least a little BETTER. OR… Maybe you communicate because you want someone to change something, and you think if they change that thing, then in the future you’ll feel BETTER.
Why put in the effort to communicate in a job interview? Because communicating WELL will lead to you getting the job you want. And get you more money. Or more enjoyable work. Or both. And those things will make you feel BETTER.
So what’s the core motivation behind all communication? To feel BETTER.
BUT—Here’s The BIG Problem:
Far from it. Instead of saying:
“I want to get out of this lousy feeling, and I want to feel better”…
“YOU screwed up!”“SHAME on you! I want you to STOP that!”
Does that make you feel better? Sometimes. Maybe. But only for a little bit in the moment. It doesn’t make us feel better long-term. And that’s the first thing to remember: sometimes we communicate in a way that really does make us feel better in the moment, but we do it in a way that makes us feel BAD in the long-term.
Either we feel bad about ourselves, or it makes the person we were talking to treat us in a way where we’ll probably feel bad later on. Wouldn’t you agree?
So instead of JUST feeling better I’d like to propose a new goal for superior communication. (If you can put this to practice—you will go VERY far in life…) Here’s your new three-part goal for every communication:
- To feel better.
- To make sure the people we’re around feel better.
- And to produce the result we want - so in the FAR future we still feel better.
See The Shift?
The problem comes during highly emotional moments. Maybe you’ve had times where you just unload emotionally on others. (Or someone else did it to you. You would never. Of course not.) But when you do that—it’s just like shooting yourself in the foot. Instead—before you talk to anyone else, if you find yourself getting upset, cultivate the pause between the thing that got you upset and your reaction to it. And during that pause, you want to ask yourself:
“What do I really need to feel better?”
Wouldn’t that be a useful thing to find out before you started talking to somebody? Because if you know consciously what you REALLY need to feel better, then you can ASK for it! In a way that’s CLASSY and ELEGANT. In a way that makes you look like a mature person. In a way that makes you look like a LEADER. Someone who people want to follow. Whose ideas are important.
That’s how you telegraph the vibe of a person others want to be around. Because here’s the second part: you’re not only going to find out “What do I need”, but also:
“How can I get my needs met in a way that supports my relationship with this person?”
Good question. Right? You know what the big difference is in the quality of peoples’ lives? All else being equal, it can really be boiled down to one thing: the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself.
Your subconscious mind WILL come up with answers to whatever question you ask yourself. And those answers will become true for you. So instead of:
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“How can I make this work?”
Or better yet:
“How can I make this work—and ENJOY it?”
Which one of those three people above is going to have the most fun? And maybe there’s a fourth person — who asks an even BETTER question:
“How can I make this work… and enjoy it… and cause the OTHER person to enjoy it too?”
Ask and you shall receive.
Even if you’re only asking yourself, your unconscious brain will find ways to give it to you. Ask better questions before you communicate, and you can change your entire life.
With that said, are you presently communicating in a way that really DOES make you feel better? Are you doing that consistently? Because — given the fact that “feeling better” is the only reason we EVER communicate, it’d probably be worth your time to make sure your communication is achieving that goal. (Most people don’t).
So maybe your answer to that question is “sometimes yes, sometimes no.” Wherever it’s a no — what can you do? Where can you change the way you’re communicating so you feel better—LONG term? And are you communicating in a way that makes the OTHER person feel good?
Now it doesn’t always have to feel good the MOMENT you say it. Sometimes feeling bad for a brief time is necessary. For example, maybe you’re a doctor. And you have to break bad news to the families of your patients when they are in critical condition. Or you are mentoring someone who is younger — and you have to give them harsh feedback that is painful in the moment, but you know will make them grow in the long-term.
So what we’re really concerned with is making sure both you and the other person feel good long-term. With me so far? If we’re going to make all of that happen we need to realize:
ALL Upsets Result From An
Expectation YOU Put On Someone
That Was Not Met.
Okay, what the crap does that mean? That’s when you associate expectations that were not met TO somebody else. You are saying:
“My expectations are not being met BECAUSE of you.”
For example: How many times have you had an expectation that did not get met? But you got over it a lot quicker because you didn’t link it to anybody else? You thought:
“Well, I’m disappointed. But oh well, it didn’t work out. Nobody’s fault.”
But OTHER times you got upset, and you STAYED upset, and usually it’s because you decided the REASON you didn’t get what you wanted is because of someone else. And when you think it’s someone else’s fault, you tend to stay upset a LOT longer.
We want to move beyond that.
That’s where the next piece comes in. To change your life, change your communication by changing your belief systems. People who are successful have a WILDLY different set of beliefs about others than people who are not successful. Their beliefs are set up so that when challenges come up — when people don’t meet your expectations — (because that IS going to happen to you again in life) you can be completely unaffected.
YOU can begin to adopt these successful beliefs — to help you interpret people’s behavior in the same ways successful people do. Like a leader. Like someone who has their dream relationship. Like a millionaire or billionaire. And not to mention — like someone who is a LOT happier with their life in general. So before we wrap this up…
Here are Five Core Beliefs that people who have exceptional relationships, great financial success, and powerful communication ALL use to become wildly successful.
Core Belief #1:
People Are NOT Their Behaviors.
If someone does something, their behavior is NOT who they ARE, it’s merely what they’re doing at the moment. Now, if you need evidence to really believe this, just look at your own life. How many times have you ever done something that really isn’t YOU?
You do something, then you say,
“I can’t believe I did/said that. That’s not me.”
So when somebody does something, instead of going:
“How could they do this to me?”
“That person did this, therefore they are a BAD person…”
What you REALLY want to do is say:
“I don’t agree with their behavior, but I don’t hate the person.”
Same thing is true with helping your children to make changes. You want to be a great parent? You don’t correct your child, correct the behavior. It’s very important we separate behavior, from who a person really is.
Hopefully we are a lot more than just what people notice physically about what we do. YOU would hope other people think that of you, so return the favor. What we ARE is a lot more than what we demonstrate at times.
They’re not a bad person, they’ve got some bad behavior. Now — it’s perfectly fine to get upset. But get upset with the behavior. Separate behavior from the person. If you’re scolding your kids, this might sound like:
“I love you… but I will NOT settle for that behavior. And I know you’re much better than this. So I need you to make this shift. Are you willing to do that?”
Correct the behavior, not the person. Otherwise the person feels really beat up. They feel like you hate THEM, and the whole thing is counter-productive.
Core Belief #2:
There Is ALWAYS A Positive
Intent Behind ALL Behavior.
This even goes for behavior that seems extremely negative. Let’s say a friend called you heinous names, or insulted your beloved pet goldfish (and they KNEW the goldfish was crossing the line). Or someone in a romantic relationship pulls away and won’t get close to you. Or your boss is not appreciating your work, and treats you like a slave. There is a positive intent behind ALL of those actions.
As horrible as it may feel to you in the moment — this behavior is actually trying to do something good. And the good thing it’s trying to do is either:
- Protect the person from pain, or
- Give them some pleasure.
The above examples — I would imagine — are all someone trying to protect themselves from pain. So the reality is — maybe the person who won’t get close to you in a romantic relationship has been hurt before. And doesn’t want it to happen again. And that’s why they’re pulling away.
Or maybe that person who said harsh things felt threatened by something YOU did that was great. And instead of admiring you for it, they lashed out at your goldfish (which - again - they knew would really hurt you).
A lot of us — to try to protect ourselves from pain — do dumb things that make our lives even more painful. So instead of making THEM wrong -
“He’s such a mean person. He doesn’t commit. He’s an a**hole”
What you might say is -
“Wow, I MASSIVELY disagree with his behavior… and I wonder what the intent is in his unconscious mind?”“What is it his brain is trying to get him to achieve by being this way?”
The truth is — it’s probably trying to protect him. And then, maybe you’d think: things could be a LOT better if I show this person he doesn’t need to be protected from me—and I’m not going to hurt him. Make Sense?
See how profound that is? And especially with your friends, your employees, your co-workers, you want to ASSUME that if they do ANYTHING, there is ALWAYS a positive intent towards you as well. Even if you can’t see it.
Because if you assume that EVERYBODY has a positive intent, no matter WHAT they do, and you just expect that, then something miraculous happens. People will tend to respond to that accordingly. The negative behavior goes away. And they’ll LOVE you for it.
Core Belief #3:
People Do The Best They Can
With The Resources They Have
Tony Robbins used to say:
“There are no unresourceful people. There are only unresourceful states.”
We’ve ALL had times when we weren’t being very resourceful. And the truth is—that happens to everyone. It’s just a state. Example:
Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and the server walks up and they’re just exuding: “I don’t give a flying piece of donkey doo-doo about you”? And in a blazé “whatever” kind of tone, they just go:
“What do you want?”
Then, they stare into the distance instead of looking at you — because they just can’t wait for their shift to be over? And then, they probably get minor details of your order wrong, but since they were exuding an “IDGAF” attitude, it makes those minor details TEN TIMES worse?
When this happens, most people do NOT think to themselves:
“Oh, this person’s doing the best they can with the resources they have!”
A lot of people might be thinking:
“Psh… I’ll tell her ‘what I want’… no tip!”
Or better yet:
“Here’s what I want: your manager over here, right now…”
But really think about this: do those things actually get you better service? Do they make you feel better? Actually they probably do, for a brief moment… Do they make you feel better about yourself? In the long term? Probably not. See— the only way you can REALLY help this person (AND you)…
Is To NOT Make Them Wrong.
Because — do you really think that server is a mean, evil, sinister person? Probably not. What’s most likely happened? This person is not being very resourceful because they’re not in a resourceful state. So what if you could help them change their state? You think they might treat you differently?
What you want to do is have a little more compassion. And when someone gets snarky or short with you, instead of reacting — which we all do at times — you want to stop and say:
“This person did the best they can with the resources they have. They don’t have any resources right now because they’re in a lousy state.”
And then you can change their state. Yes, you have the power to do that. How?There’s a zillion ways. They walk up with a snobby tone and say:
“What do you want?”
And you say:
“I want to see you dance.”“I want you to take a break.”“I don’t want anything right now… because obviously they’re over-working you. Why don’t you take everybody else’s order first, and when you have time, come take mine?”
Yes, I’m telling you to actually SAY exactly that to your server. It’s a hundred million times more effective than “I need to speak to your manager.” You will be absolutely SHOCKED at how they respond. Their attitude will do a TOTAL 180.
When people notice they’ve done something like this, and you treat them WELL in response, if you treat someone with RESPECT even though they treated you like CRAP…
THEY WILL REMEMBER THAT.
You will go down in their brain as the coolest person ever. And they will want nothing but to cooperate with you in every way shape and form. It buys you a LOT. Because in the future, they’ll always remember: “You treated me well even though I treated you like donkey doo.”
And by the way — people remember that in romantic relationships and business relationships, too. They remember that a TON.
So if you treat them well, they’ll go “Oh I’m sorry.” Then they’ll probably tell you why they treated you like crap, and why they’re in a lousy state. “I’m really sorry — it’s not about you, it’s that I had a fight with the cook, or these other people didn’t tip me, or I got too many tables…” and so on. And what kind of service are you going to get after that?
Because you broke their pattern. You changed their state. You made them more resourceful. They are going to appreciate that. They’re also going to appreciate that you treated them well, even though — by the unwritten social code of all humans — you didn’t have to.
You could have taken a “free jab” at them. But you didn’t. People are not their behaviors. People do the best they can with the resources they have. There are no unresourceful people, only unresourceful states.
Core Belief #4:
No Matter How Thin You Slice It,
There Are ALWAYS Two Sides
This belief will keep you balanced. No matter how certain you are that you are right—there’s ALWAYS another side. You may not like that side. You may not agree with that side. But there’s another side. And it helps if you at LEAST acknowledge that it’s there. Even if you don’t agree with it.
By hearing the other side and having that experience, it creates a little more balance in our lives. Just acknowledge it. It works. And finally:
Core Belief #5:
In Any Communication,
Every Response Will Either Be A
LOVING Response or a Cry For Help
When someone responds and you don’t understand it, ask yourself over and over again: is this a cry for help, or is it a loving response? And if you think it doesn’t fit into either one of those two categories… it does. You just have to broaden your view of it.
Don’t just look at it in the moment. Look at it in the context of the person’s whole life. In the context of what’s REALLY going on. This is important. Because most people respond to a cry for help with another cry for help. Which doesn’t help.
What most people do when they get upset - is retaliate, cry, try to escape, try to leave, try to get even, try to take it out on someone else, but do any of these things to create what we REALLY want from communication:
To Feel BETTER?
And those things might even make you feel better for a very short moment. But they only make you feel worse in the long term. People can destroy their lives by how they communicate:
- To themselves, and
- To other people.
And the number one way to destroy a business, or a personal relationship, or yourself, is to completely forget that the purpose of all communication is to feel better.
That’s why one out of every two people get divorced. That’s why people lose everything to drugs and alcohol. That’s why we de-humanize people on the other side of the political spectrum. It’s just a REALLY REALLY counter-productive way of trying to get ourselves to feel better.
But a major reason people aren’t feeling good is because of how they’re communicating with themselves, and communicating to other people. If you take nothing else from this article that is now over 3,400 words long (and I truly didn’t mean for it to be—but hey, I had a lot to say)… Take this:
Develop the practice of stopping and asking yourself
“What do I really need to feel better?”
And that alone can change everything for you.