6 Communication Strategies to Improve Any Relationship
Communication is what connects us to other people, yet we are rarely taught how to communicate effectively. All too often what we try to communicate gets lost in translation and the other person hears something else or misunderstands, and frustration and conflicts ensue. Fortunately, there are some basic strategies that can be used in any relationship to help improve connections and head off miscommunication before it starts. If you’re struggling to communicate with others, take some time now and give the following 6 strategies, inspired by Klear Minds, a try.
- Be an Engaged Listener
How often is it that during a conversation with someone, instead of listening to him or her, you are thinking about what you’re going to say next. Effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. While it might be difficult, try really listening to what the other person is saying. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the other person is trying to communicate. When you’re an engaged listener, not only will you better understand the other person, you’ll also make that person feel heard and understood.
- Be Aware of Your Nonverbal Signals
Most of our communication with one another, in any relationship, isn’t what we say, but how we say it. Nonverbal communication is your body language, the tone of your voice, its inflection, eye contact. Be aware of the messages you are sending via non-verbal channels. When communicating with others, try and use body language such as leaning in to listen, making eye contact, and keep a neutral body stance and tone to your voice. By using nonverbal signals in this way, you can better connect with others, which helps to build better relationships at home and work.
- The “I’s” Have It
One of the most basic components of effective communication is the ability to communicate needs and feelings clearly without creating defensiveness in the other person. One way to achieve this is to use “I” and “I feel” statements. For example, “I am having trouble dealing with my anxiety about our family’s spending habits, and my worries are keeping me awake at night.” When you start with “I”, the focus is more on how you are feeling and how you are affected by the other person’s behaviour. It’s less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.
Empathy is trying to see things from the point-of-view of others. When communicating with others, try not to be judgemental or biased by preconceived ideas or beliefs. Instead, try and view situations and responses from the other person’s perspective. You don’t have to like or agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. Developing empathy helps you better understand even the unspoken parts of your communication with others, and helps you respond more effectively.
- Keep Stress in Check
Some communication scenarios are, by their nature, stressful. Stress can, however, be a major barrier to effective communication. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior. To communicate effectively, you need to be aware of and in control of your emotions. If you feel you must leave a situation to calm down, do so, then discuss the issue when you are calmer. When you are calm and focused, you are better able to manage your emotions, and communication becomes more constructive.
- Assert Yourself
Direct, assertive expression makes for clear communication and can help boost self-esteem and decision-making. Being assertive means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others. It does NOT mean being hostile, aggressive, or demanding. Communicating in an assertive manner can help you to minimize conflict, and have your needs better met, leading to more positive relationships with family, friends, and others.
Effective communication in relationships is something that often needs to be learned, polished and practiced over time. It combines attentive listening, nonverbal communication, the ability to manage stress in the moment, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. It can improve relationships at home, work, and in social situations by deepening your connections to others. I hope you find these communication strategies helpful in your relationships, and remember, practice makes perfect!
This article was written by Dakota Murphey.
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