Communication is vital for any relationship, or friendship, to flourish and thrive. So, when you are trying to talk to someone who doesn’t listen, or who has automated meaningless responses, you probably become frustrated. How do you improve the communication between you two if one of you simply can’t communicate?
I’m sure you’ve tried everything to get the other person to focus on your words, and the meaning they carry, but maybe it’s not entirely the other person’s fault.
Now before you say, “I’m not the one to blame!” and start pointing at the brick wall you continually attempt to speak to, hear me out.
Communicating clearly takes more than just saying exactly what you mean; there’s actually a lot more going on than a simple verbal exchange. How we say our words, how we carry ourselves, and how we choose to approach conversation are all relevant factors in communication. If the direct approach isn’t working, maybe it has something to do with the delivery.
Most people unknowingly make common communication mistakes, and then wonder why it’s so difficult to get through to someone. The good news is, you can learn how to make your conversations more fruitful by avoiding the following communication blunders.
Saying “I” instead of “we”
If you are talking to your friend or partner, and you use “I” more often than “we”, you are instantly causing separation. Communication is a two-way street and it requires teamwork. Stop the “me versus you” mentality and work together to solve your problems.
You prioritize your time over theirs
Everyone’s time is valuable- we all have things to do and deadlines to meet. Making it seem like your time is worth more than someone elses will make them shut down instantly. Respect each other’s schedules and boundaries, by asking questions instead of assuming.
There are few things that damage a conversation worse than interruptions. Whether someone is telling you about their adorable new puppy, or boring you with an explanation of the relationship dynamics between reality stars, let them finish. It doesn’t make you feel great when someone interrupts you, so doing it to someone else probably makes them feel crappy too.
When someone speaks to me, I try my best to look them in the eye, which I wasn’t always very good at. In fact, I avoided eye contact for most of my life. I found that caused problems when it came to communicating. People either thought I was uninterested, or just rude.
Put the phone down, close the laptop, and look at someone when you speak to them (and when they speak to you). If communication is important to you, act like it- look them in the eye.
You don’t ask questions
If you are talking to someone about is a problem and you’re trying to find a way to resolve it, using demanding phrasing isn’t going to help. Instead of saying, “you need to do this,” or, “I need you to help with this,” try asking a question. Give them a chance to be a part of the solution by opening up the lines of communication. Try asking, “how do you think we should handle this,” or, “what do you think we should do” as ways to include them.
Unfavourable body language
I know you have heard of the importance of body language, and this situation is no different. If you are speaking with someone and you have your arms crossed, or if they are talking to you and you have your hand on your hip, you are giving off “anti-communication” waves. Okay, not really, but you might as well be. Avoid apathetic or belittling body language by paying attention to how you might appear. If you were speaking to someone and they were posed as you are, how would you react?
Focusing on the person’s traits more than their words
How many times have the words “you’re such a…” left your mouth? Those words don’t contribute to a conversation, they end it. If you want to improve your communication skills, try focusing on the words the other person is saying, more than the behaviours that annoy you.
Assuming they will “know what you mean”
I’ve mentioned assumptions before, and I am going to do it again. You must say exactly what you mean- no cryptic messages! Don’t expect someone to automatically know what hidden meanings lie within your words. Be direct.
I am telling you these things because I think healthy communication is very, VERY, important in any relationship. Of course, not everyone communicates the same way. Perspective plays a big role, as does personality. Some people avoid discussing unpleasant matters, such as “crappy communication” because they don’t want to upset the other person, or they’d rather not start an argument. But the reality is, avoiding this problem only creates a bigger problem. In order for a relationship to be productive and healthy, tough issues have to be tackled- together. Remember, you are a team.
As a final bit of advice, I recommend doing what I try to do in all of life’s difficult situations: treat others how you want to be treated. Show compassion, have empathy, and try to see things from the other side. You will be surprised how much this improves your general quality of life, not just your communication.
What have you found to be an effective way to communicate with people who aren’t gifted communicators? Let us know in the comments!
By Raven Fon