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Life coach: watch what you say

We are so used to speaking our minds that we take the process for granted. Yet almost every study of what goes wrong in relationships (professional or personal) identifies "communication problems" as the culprit. Here are three ways to be a great communicator:

* Acknowledge the other person's feelings. For example, if someone is depressed, the least effective thing you can say is: "Cheer up, it's not so bad." Instead of denying their right to their emotions, start with a statement that shows you understand their feelings.

* Before opposing what a person says, ask them at least three questions about it. You'll know more what the person means, and you'll show that you are genuine in understanding their position.

* Use metaphor. For example, if you're having a disagreement with someone, saying: "I think we've hit a brick wall, is there a way we can tunnel under it?" can shift the conversation into a lighter and more constructive mode.

Jurgen Wolff is a hypnotherapist, teacher and writer. For details of his Powerful Writing With NLP workshop in London on March 8, email:

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