I was fortunate enough to have been involved as a crisis negotiator for over 13 years, having trained in New Zealand, Australia, and with the FBI.
Here are some reflections on things that I learned about communicating which I try to transfer into my personal life;
1. Never make a promise that you cannot keep - When we break a promise, not only does the person we made it to feel bad but we also feel the same way. Under-promise and over-deliver is a good guide.
2. Never vindictively tell a lie - Sometimes we need to stretch the truth to make a point, or leave something out of a conversation, perhaps even say something that is untrue – but only if we are doing so as to not hurt someone.
3. Be the first to give - Always give something first and never ask for anything in return. Why, because the other person will always reciprocate if they have the opportunity to.
4. Listen - We have two ears and one mouth so that we can do twice as much listening as talking.
5. Only speak if you have something to say - Silence is the key to listening. Less is more.
6. Make it about them - Focus on the other person's needs, then your own.
7. Be humble - If we take the lower ground, we gain respect. It is so easy to become aggressive if we need to but difficult to retract what we said in anger.
8. Keep an open mind - A closed mind causes friction and is a barrier to understanding.
9. Never leave anything unsaid - Just like on a sports field we give everything, the same rule applies in conversations. Say all that you have to say, in particular if expressing emotions. Men often find this one difficult to do.
10. Always finish with an agreement - Never leave a conversation on a negative note, always finish on a positive or with an agreement. Otherwise we will harbour animosity, guilt, or regret.