Communication Skills to Improve Relationships
In this new age of technology effective communication sometimes goes by the wayside. We send emails and text messages, but that is hardly the same as having a spontaneous conversation with an individual or a group. Going on a job interview or conversing with your doctor is also an important time to communicate effectively.
Effective communication is extremely important in business and in relationships. It is the foundation of all healthy relationship. Staying on topic and listening to the other person is half the battle. As the old saying goes, listen twice as much as you talk.
Effective Communication - Listening
There are several criteria that impact effective communication, such as our listening skills, our nonverbal communication and the words we use to communicate.The ability to accurately receive and interpret messages explains effective listening.
Have you ever been in a conversation with an individual that is texting someone on their phone? The individual is only half list listening at best, and it is frustrating to the speaker.
One of the genealogy meetings I attend has a nice lady, but she talks continually and often during the meeting. I was secretary for the group last year and had to make sure I didn’t sit anywhere near her, or I couldn’t hear to take notes.
It is really important to respect the rights of others as well. Common courtesy and thoughtfulness goes a long way toward making friends and having healthy relationships.
Do you give someone time to complete a sentence before you jump in and interrupt? I have gotten excited and interrupted, so it is something I have to be conscious of when talking.
Have you had the experience of trying to relay information to a person who continues to interrupt you, and your message doesn’t get across? The frustration of these types of conversations is obvious and certainly not effective communication. Listening while looking into the speaker’s eyes shows that you are interested, and that you are truly listening to what they have to say.
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There are many nonverbal cues that speak volumes. Have you ever had someone speak to you and smile, but when you look in their eyes they are focused elsewhere or sometimes they just have a blank stare? Or, have you been talking to someone while they keep moving away? I guess you assume they are not interested, or you have talked so long they are trying to escape.
We give and receive wordless signals continually when we are talking with another person. Nonverbal communication and listening will let the other person know whether you care or not. It can be confusing to talk with someone when they’re saying one thing, but their body language is sending the opposite message.
Some of the nonverbal communication includes:
- Facial expressions
- Gestures, which can mean different things in different cultures
- Eye contact
- Tone of voice or how fast someone talks
- Standing still or moving away from the speaker
Silence can also be considered nonverbal communication, particularly if the other person is expecting some input. I have known some people to use the silent treatment to punish their partner for some perceived wrong, but it seems rather childish to me. Of course, there are times where you might treasure that silence.
We can’t overlook touch, as a firm handshake, a hug, a slight tap on the shoulder or someone grabbing your arm are all very significant.
Another nonverbal aspect is space. Have you ever had someone who stands too close when you’re talking to them and you get this feeling that they are invading your personal space? According to Edward T. Hall's personal reaction bubble, the intimate space for lovers and family is just 1.5 feet. The comfortable social space is 4 feet, while the public space is between four and 25 feet. This is probably more accurate in the United States than it is in other cultures.
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Effective Verbal Communication
Communicating effectively is actually a learned skill, and most of us probably can use some improvement. The benefits of effective communication can definitely improve relationships, while deepening your connection with those you care about. In a larger group effective communication can improve teamwork and decision-making. Learning the tips concerning non-verbal communication is just as important.
Some tips they may help improve your communication skills:
- "Pause before responding.
- Be trustworthy and honest.
- Don't rush communication.
- Adapt your ideas to others.
- Stay in the moment.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues.
- Intend to understand.
- Be patient and open-minded.
- Follow up after communicating.
- Ask for feedback from others."
Spontaneous communication is much more effective than formulaic. Think of someone who’s reading a speech from a paper as compared to someone who is delivering a speech from memory that appears to be from their heart. There is no comparison between the two for the listener. Stay on topic and making sure the ideas you wish to share are understood by the other party.
Ideally, we want to use communication to help us better understand each other, to work out our differences, to build trust and have the ability to solve problems together.
This means listening to the other person’s ideas, even if you don’t agree; then, express your ideas. Obviously both people have to be willing to participate in this manner and leave their tempers somewhere else.
It isn’t always easy and sometimes you just have to “agree to disagree”. We are not clones. and we are not going to look at each situation the same no matter how much we love someone.
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To sum up effective communication some of the key points include; make eye contact, and nod occasionally when the other individual is making an important point.
Never cross your arms, but just stand with your hands clasped in front of you or at your side. Try not to display nervous tics, such as picking at your nails or wringing your hands as this is very distracting to the person who is speaking.
Try to be clear, concise and stay on topic during the conversation. Be open minded and listen to the other person's point of view. Never be condescending in your replies, as nothing will shut down a conversation any faster.
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The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.