Whether it’s communication in your relationship or communicating with friends, family members or coworkers, it’s a good skill to cultivate and work on no matter what stage of your life you are in. Being a good communicator is an ability that can always use improvement and growth. Especially when we are tested with our patience, trying to always develop communication skills will put you in better stead.
Listening Before Speaking
Most misunderstandings occur in communication because our brain is constantly taking in information and reacting as it’s receiving the information moment to moment. This becomes problematic because we are essentially creating a reaction before we have the whole story. One little sentence interpreted the wrong way can cause a reaction that sours the whole conversation. Make sure you are listening and staying present rather than thinking of what to say in response. Practice listening to what the other person is saying without reacting. When it’s your time to respond, then speak from a place of allowing the other person to express everything they needed to say. Never cut someone off while they are speaking, it creates a feeling of being unheard immediately which no one likes. When you interrupt someone, it’s sending the message that what you have to say is more important than what the other person is communicating.
Explain Rather Than Assume
You know what they say about assuming. It’s really true. If you can calmly explain what bothers you or how something made you feel, it’s sending the message of being open rather than assuming or accusatory towards the other person. Maybe they didn’t know their words or actions were causing a reaction in you. The other person might not even know what the underlying issue is. Try to keep this in mind and try sharing your feelings in a calm manner – it will get you further than yelling or placing blame without explanation.
Have an Agenda
The only agenda you should have is not getting in a fight. Commit to discussing a problem without causing a bigger issue or argument. Most times when a misunderstanding happens, in the end you are arguing about something else completely different than the first issue. Stick to the plan of not making it worse, but rather stay on topic and commit to resolution.
You may not always agree with another person and that’s okay. If you understand that the goal of changing someone’s mind or opinion might not be an option, it frees you up more to acceptance and understanding. Everyone is allowed to feel how they feel, it’s not up to you to change their way of feeling or thinking. If you can’t agree with someone, maybe try seeing it from their point of view and understanding that they are entitled to their opinion as you are, and all of this is okay.
Never leave the conversation angry or unresolved. Even if you can’t agree, agree to disagree and respect the other person for their ideas and feelings. You don’t have to see eye to eye, but respect between both parties will be a stronger message in the end.
Communicating can be difficult and challenging, always try to keep the lines open and welcoming and people will feel safe sharing a piece of them with you.