Effective communication is the cornerstone of solid relationships. Through communication, we share our wants and desires, hopes, frustrations, losses, and successes. Without effective communication, someone may miss some of these thoughts and feelings, and we may feel unheard and potentially alone or separated within our relationships.
Effective communication is a two-way street. You can show a positive model of how you would like others to interact with you by being intentional about how you communicate. Your small adjustments may set the wheels in motion for positive changes within your relationships. For clarity, the word relationship describes how we interact with another human being. These interactions could include but are not limited to work-related relationships/contacts, friendships, family relationships, and intimate partner relationships. They all involve and rely on effective communication. Here are some strategies to consider for effective communication:
- Listen! A simple concept, yet so very powerful. Before thinking of your response, pause and listen to what the person is saying. The principle is still relevant whether the information we share is through conversation, email, or another form of communication. By listening, you can ensure that your response reflects what the person shared rather than how you think they may respond.
- Acknowledge what the person shared with you. Acknowledging what someone shares does not mean you agree or disagree with the information the person shared. It simply shows that you heard what was shared. Many people feel unheard at work, in their family environment, and in intimate partner relationships. Acknowledging what the other person has shared helps people to feel heard.
- Speak with humility and kindness. Sometimes speaking with humility can be challenging. Tone and body language can speak louder than the words themselves. You may have received hurtful information. You may need to acknowledge and process your feelings before you can respond. Pausing before you respond is part of taking care of yourself and equipping yourself to be present in the conversation. Responding with anger (e.g., yelling and screaming) prevents the other person from hearing what you want to share. It may prevent you from feeling listened to and potentially negatively impact the relationship.
- Choose your communication moments wisely. For more personal communications with family, friends, and loved ones, try to choose moments to communicate when both parties are not exhausted. Imagine coming home after a long day and trying to have a heavy conversation. You may be setting yourself up for an argument. There may be an opportunity to table the heavy thoughts for moments when both parties are more relaxed.
- Please be kind to yourself. Communications are not perfect because we are human. However, we are empowered to make changes in the way we communicate. By applying these strategies, you have the opportunity to improve how you relate and communicate.
Sometimes how we communicate is connected to past hurts and or childhood experiences. It may take a deeper understanding of some of these areas to enable someone to communicate more effectively. If you would benefit from speaking to a psychotherapist, please get in touch with LifeCare Centres.