Nine Steps towards Better Communication
It is a commonly held belief that communication comprises of simply talking but in actuality conversation requires a balance between talking and listening. It also involves clarity in communicating the message, understanding and also conveying respect when there are differences in opinion.
Problems Faced In communication
Resolving Conflicts- Many relationships would be better if both partners reminded themselves that they are on the same side. Negotiate and remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue is not that important, sometimes let the issue go or agree to disagree. The manner in which we put forth our point of view is crucial in resolving conflicts in our relationships.
Making Assumptions- Many of us have a tendency to make assumptions that our partner knows about everything that we expect from them and the relationship. No matter how well we know and love each other, we cannot read our partner’s mind. We need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, resentment or confusion. A relationship should be based on communication, not assumptions. communication reduces uncertainties and the need to second guess ourselves. So if we don’t know anything or are unclear about something, the best thing to do is ask and don’t jump to conclusions.
Attention- Nowadays the biggest distraction that we are facing are iphones and ipads that put more emphasis on the ‘I’ than ‘We’. Effective communication demands undivided attention to gauge the other person’s emotions, words and gestures clearly and correctly. We engage with others for hours through our screens nowadays but we rarely spend quality time engaging with our significant others on a personal, face to face level.
How Can We Communicate Better
- More of ‘we’ & ‘us’ statements rather than ‘me’ & ‘you’ statements- Using we or us statements conveys that both the individuals are on the same side. It helps to foster connection even if there are conflicts.
- Do not bring up past issues while discussing a present area of concern- Focus on the issue at hand and resolving it. Set aside a different time to discuss other areas of concern as bringing up multiple issues all at once will further add to frustration and agitation that one is feeling and brings in more negativity.
- Distance does not kill relationships, silence does- It’s a commonly held belief that long distance relationships are hard to maintain due to the physical separation. Relationships can be maintained even with geographical barriers if there is a constant flow of communication between the two individuals. We should avoid using the silent treatment even if we are disappointed about something. Take time out to think and process feelings but never avoid communication.
- Non Verbal Communication- When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Our body posture, tone of voice and the expressions on our face all convey a message. These non-verbal means of communicating can tell the other person how we feel about them. If our feelings don’t fit with our words, it is often the non-verbal communication that gets ‘heard’ and believed. For example, saying ‘I love you’ to your partner in a flat, bored, tone of voice, gives two very different messages. Notice whether your body language reflects what you are saying.
- Avoid Multi tasking – Multi tasking can become a big hindrance to enriching conversations. Be present; be in that moment with your partner. While having a conversation it is very important to set aside everything else. It shows that the person is your priority at that moment and that he/she has your full attention.
- Tone of voice- Do not take on an accusatory tone even if you are talking about each other’s deficiencies. Any form of accusation makes us guarded and less receptive.
- Appreciation- If we have been always criticizing then we need to change our approach towards communication. Appreciation is a tool that disarms the other person and makes them feel like they are cared for.
- Be open-minded - 5+4=9 so is 3+6. We need to be open to listening to a viewpoint that is different from ours in order to understand what the other person is trying to convey. We react rather than respond if there’s a difference of opinion. We need to be more accepting. Acceptance makes us less defensive and more understanding and accommodating towards others.
- Listen- True listening requires a setting aside of oneself and most of us do not listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply. We are always in a hurry to put forward our points without giving the other person the opportunity to state their views. Also we should remember that when we talk we are just repeating what we already know but when we listen we incur an opportunity for growth and learning.
The single biggest problem of communication is the illusion that it has already taken place
- George Bernard Shaw