Effective communication is a necessary skill in life because it helps us establish and maintain healthy relationships. Healthy relationships allow us to live longer more fulfilled lives, by creating less stress, stronger connections, and even having a positive impact on your career. It can be the difference in getting your point across or continuing to argue with the wall. That being said I thought it’d be important to give a few tips on helpful communication skills. Now, these tips won’t be the end all be all to fix broken relationships or immediately establish new ones, but they’re a start, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Develop your listening skills/Practice active listening
When practicing good communication skills it’s important that we are listening to the other parties involved. It is also important that you aren’t preemptively listening and trying to guess what they’re going to say. So that means don’t think up questions or responses before they have finished speaking. One exercise to practice is to repeat back what has been said to you. For example “Ok, I hear what you’re saying, you would like to do x” or “from what I’m understanding you’re feeling/thinking x.”
Body Language is CRITICAL
Though we may not realize it, our bodies give away several cues when we communicate. These cues can convey interest, disinterest, disgust, anticipation etc. Helpful tip: Lean in and maintain eye contact when you are conversing with someone. Update: Be mindful of social distancing guidelines and other’s personal space when you’re engaging in this practice. You can stay engaged and maintain eye contact masked and 6ft away!
Take time to respond
I know I myself in particular have trouble with this skill. This task can be pretty hard especially in the heat of a debate, but better you take time to formulate a thought out response than to say something in the passion that you can’t take back. In practice, this can look like pausing an argument and coming back to it at a later time. This doesn’t mean pausing it to ignore it, but pausing to work out thoughts and feelings so you all can openly discuss. Shout out to Marshall and Lilly from “How I Met Your Mother” for the inspiration!
Be Concise/Convey your Point
When communicating you want to make sure you clearly and concisely convey your point. Do not leave any room for interpretation because it can be misconstrued. The last thing you want to do is leave grievances out on the table, it is not fair to your partner to bring something already squashed up again. However one should know there is an appropriate way to address your claims and issues without being rude. When in disagreement remember it should always be you and your partner vs the problem, not vs each other.
Make Communication a Priority
This may be the most important thing on this list. Without the willingness to incorporate communication or make it a priority the rest of this list is useless. You’ve got to want to be better, want better for you and your relationships. If something hurts you, verbalize it, if you enjoy something, let it be known; people enjoy positive reinforcement. This can look like an hour without your phone discussing various things about your day to your partner.