We can all talk. That much is a given. But talking isn’t communicating. It’s a part of how we communicate, but not the act, itself. Real communication is rooted in a mutual exchange of ideas and at the very least, coming to an understanding with another person even if you don’t necessarily agree with one another.
The way we communicate defines our character more than anyone other action. We’re constantly engaging with other people. It’s how we represent ourselves. But sadly, we can all act from a place of self-centredness from time to time. We forget to take into account that our counterparts are people just like us with real challenges and feelings.
Here are six ways you can become a more effective communicator:
- Questions (Never Assume Anything)
So often we assume we know what another person is thinking. We think asking their opinion would be a waste of time, or in some cases, even insulting. We like to think we know more than we do about our peers. But it can lead to unnecessary confusion that can easily be solved by simply asking for clarification.
- Converse Instead of Confronting
When it comes to addressing uncomfortable issues, you don’t need to enter a dialogue with a ‘me against them’ attitude. You might see yourself as the ‘protagonist’ to your opposite number’s ‘antagonist.’ But they will likely view you the same way. If you start a conversation on top note, you’ll be met with a wall of defensiveness. Even if you’re right, converse, don’t confront.
- Make Sure You’re Choosing You’re Checking Your Language
This doesn’t necessarily refer to bad language. It refers to how you’re presenting your side of the story or making a request of someone. Words are often more literal than you realise. So using the correct tense could be the difference between indicating your true feelings. E.g “I will do that” vs “I can do that” could be used in place of one another but the former creates a clear element of subtext that seeds unnecessary doubt.
- Become More Aware of Your Body Language
The more you learn to master your body language, the more successful your relationships will be. You can be saying one thing with your words, but give off a completely different message with your body language. It pays to adopt a practice of mindfulness and really get to know the way you’re presenting yourself to others – learn to understand the way others view you.
- Leave Space for Response
Communication is a two-way street. It doesn’t involve you dictating terms before moving on. This can happen even if you’re intentions are in the right place. We can all get carried away with our own story now and again. But it’s important to check ourselves to ensure that we’re allowing the room for the other person to respond and offer their opinions.
- Understanding Feelings are Separate from Facts
You can acknowledge the way someone feels without having to agree with them. You don’t need to operate from an absolute of right and wrong. Disagreements are a natural part of life. It’s entirely possible to acknowledge someone’s emotion without agreeing with their story. It’s the essence of compassion.