7 things to do to communicate better August 24, 2015
Communication is key when it comes to all of our relationships. Only when we learn to really communicate with others, we can understand them better and learn from our relationships. Our brain is a social organ and only the interaction with others enables us to really thrive as social beings and grow on a personal level.
We communicate in a variety of different ways. What I want to focus on here is mostly our verbal communication in person and the body language we use in conversations. So here are 7 things to do to communicate better with people:
1. Have an open heart and listen
Give people a chance to make you understand them better. It does not matter who the person is, or how well you know them. If you want to improve on your communication skills you have to focus on yourself before a conversation and be willing to listen to them with an open mind. Do not already assume where the conversation will be going. Be open to learn something new about them and really listen to what they have to tell you.
2. Be mindful of your body language
We can say a lot without ever uttering a single word. Be aware of what messages you are sending. Are you looking the person talking to you in the eyes? Is your body language open and are you facing them? Even if you do not have any bad intentions, people might get the impression you are not interested in the conversation, or harbor negative feelings when you are sending certain clues with your body language. So reflect on your body language in conversations.
3. Stay focused
Give people your undivided attention. If you know you cannot do that, tell them you will get back to them and give them a fixed time that you will stick to. For effective communication it is important to really give people the attention they deserve. Switch your phone to silent and stay focused on the people you are talking to.
4. Be honest and kind
You should always be honest but not hurtful with your words.People can only trust you when you are honest with them and honest with what you tell them. Nobody wants to talk to a liar, but at the same time you should be considerate with your words and how you express things without hurting people’s feelings. Sometimes it might even be a good idea to hold back, especially when you are angry. That does not mean you should not tell people the truth! Not at all. It only means it might be better to postpone a conversation and not say hurtful things out of the heat of the moment. It goes without saying that you should not use honesty as an excuse to insult people, either. Kindness and honesty should go together!
5. Be positive and encouraging
Acknowledge the other person and show interest in them. Ask questions to understand them better. Encourage them to share things with you and have a positive attitude towards them and the conversation. Show your interest and give them your attention, keep focused on the conversation.
6. Why do you want to talk to someone?
Your aim in any conversation should be positive. Think about why you talk to certain people. What purpose do you see in talking to them? Do you come from a positive place? Do you want to understand them? Connect with people? Spend time with them? Learn something? Or even find resolutions to problems? Be aware of what it is that you seek in your conversations.
Come from a positive place. You should either look to strengthen a relationship or enjoy each other’s company. Which means you want to talk to someone. That is great! Or find the solution to a problem. That’s also good. And it is not the case that every conversation needs a defined purpose. But if you notice that you have negative intentions for having a conversation, do not start one. Do not look for an argument. If you feel like after a fight you want to lash out, do not. Your aim should be to resolve conflicts and move on. Find common ground or choose not to talk to someone if you are not ready to or do not want to talk to them. Do not look for conflict! Be aware of your own motives, if you have any motives, to start a conversation.
7. Stay fair
If you find yourself unable to effectively communicate with somebody, analyse the situation. What is your part in the problem? Where can you improve? What can you do to improve the communication with the other person?
Do not choose to fight with somebody. You can disagree, but never be hurtful with your words, do not raise your words or act out. Postpone communication if a conversation escalates or you feel too upset to talk to someone. You should not burn any bridges out of the heat of an argument. Stop talking and reschedule the conversation for another time.
For an effective communication, both parties involved must be open to talk. Before you get angry with someone, ask questions to understand what they say. A lot of arguments are based on misunderstandings and the preconceived notions we develop over the course of a conversation. Often we think we know what the other person meant, and we get frustrated with them, or even angry. But when we stay calm and talk things over, the majority of the time we notice that there was a misunderstanding that caused the disagreement in the first place.
It is alright to disagree! Not everyone shares your opinion on certain subjects and that makes a lot of conversations so interesting to begin with; that we share our opinions, and learn to see things from a different angle. There is so much we can learn from each other. But for that to happen, we have to create a safe environment in our communication: To listen and be heard. To share and think about what was shared. To ask questions and to understand each other better, even if we do not agree with each other. We should still respect each other and hear each other out in arguments.
And sometimes after a difficult conversation, we can agree to disagree on something. We understand each other better after that conversation and move on from it. And we cherish each other’s differences and meet people with the respect and kindness they deserve.