Not sure how to ask your boss for more direction? Keep getting your wires crossed with your bestie? Sending mixed messages to your romantic interest?
We’ve all been there: the communication breakdown.
Regardless of the type of relationship you’re in–professional, romantic, or friendly–sharpening a few communication skills can be crucial to building (and maintaining) a successful relationship. Continue reading to find out why effective communication matters in all relationships and get the top five skills you didn’t know you needed until now.
Why communication matters
Communication is the act of giving and receiving information through both verbal and nonverbal methods. It’s paramount to how humans learn, develop, and connect with one another. Communication isn’t limited to just us humans, as every creature on earth has developed different forms of communication.
While we all can communicate on some level, through our words or body language, communicating effectively is a whole other ball game. It’s a skill that can be learned, practiced, and honed.
Complex challenges or uncomfortable situations often arise from miscommunication or lack of communication. Conflict resolution may be as simple as putting yourself in someone else's shoes and actively listening to their point of view (more to come on this below).
Ultimately, communication matters because it is the foundation of any relationship. The ability to express oneself with clarity and confidence is a powerful tool you can utilize in all your relationships, even in the one you have with yourself. Remember: sometimes, it’s not just about what we say but how we say it.
Five communication skills you should have in your arsenal
Next time you find yourself in a relationship pickle, try on one (or more) of these communication skills.
Actively listen. Take your listening skills to the next level. When listening to someone speak, make sure to rid yourself of distractions by putting your phone on Do Not Disturb or pausing your notifications. Be alert and attentive as you listen to others. Pay close attention to the types of words people choose to say, their body language, and overall demeanor. If you don’t understand or are confused, ask questions to get clarity.
Use nonverbal communication cues. Your body language, facial expressions, and posture are all nonverbal cues that help you communicate and listen. Think about it: when someone is slumped over with a sad expression, it sends a message without any words. When delivering something important, try standing confidently with your shoulders back and chin up. To show someone that you are actively listening, make eye contact and nod your head to demonstrate that you truly hear them.
Find empathy. This skill is beneficial in challenging situations where emotions run high. Empathy allows us to diffuse the feeling or senses of anger and frustration. Although everyone’s experiences are unique, we can all relate to every human's shared emotions: anger, sadness, joy, and excitement. Additionally, empathy helps us find common ground, making communicating with respect a little easier.
Be concise and clear. Say more by saying less. You respect other people’s time by making your point concisely and clearly. Do your best not to leave any room for misinterpretation by avoiding broad or vague language. Get specific and to the point.
- Think before you respond. Have you ever responded a little too quickly only to regret it later? Try waiting to answer, especially to a message that evokes a highly emotional response. Receiving unfortunate news can send anyone into an emotional tailspin. Allow the dust to settle, collect your thoughts from a neutral place, and respond once you’ve given yourself some space. Not every message needs an immediate response. Take your time.
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