Changing Your Life with Good Communication
Communication skills are the most important skills a person can possess. Having knowledge of how best to explain your needs and thoughts while understanding others can make a huge difference in relationships, career, parenting, and all areas of life.
How Can Good Communication Improve Your Life?
Communication is a mix of listening and transmitting information. How well you perform these two tasks will have a huge effect on every aspect of your life. Telling a partner what you need and being able to perceive their needs, for example, is crucial to a healthy relationship. Being able to communicate positively and productively with individuals and groups will determine a large amount of your career success.
Some people communicate well naturally. Others have to work on learning good communication skills. While this skill is not taught in most schools, there are resources for teaching yourself good communication. It is never too late to learn new things.
Different Types of Communication
We tend to think of communication as talking and listening, but there are actually several different ways to communicate.
Communication is merely sharing information. It can be written, as in texts, emails, and books. It can be oral (speaking and listening), or visual (charts and pictures). Communication can even be nonverbal, as in body language and gesturing.
Even when no words are spoken, people communicate with nonverbally. In fact, non verbal communication is the most powerful kind!
Nonverbal communication includes:
- facial expression
- tone of voice
- eye contact
- fidgeting and nervous behavior
It’s important to be aware of your own nonverbal communication as well as that of others because these are very important cues to a person’s mood and feelings about the subject at hand.
The Importance of Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is perhaps the most important form of communication. It includes verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual communication. Interpersonal communication is simply the act of giving and receiving messages from a person or a small group of people.
People who have high skills in interpersonal communication tend to be happier and most successful. This is because they can perceive and express needs, thus getting their own needs met and meeting those of others. This builds rapport and relationships. Many people are good at making their needs known but do not do this in a way that encourages others to listen and act. Other people suffer because they do not listen well, which is almost half of communication.
Listening: The Other Half of the Equation
Listening to others is an important skill that is unfortunately rarely taught. However, you can teach yourself to be a good listener in just a few steps.
First, be aware of the other person’s nonverbal communication. You can usually tell by their posture, eye contact, expression, and tone of voice how they are feeling about what they say. This is important in determining the best and most productive response.
Second, listen carefully for their main message. This will help them to feel heard and also allow them to clarify if you misunderstood.
Last, ask any necessary questions that will help you to understand them fully.
By following these steps, you ensure that you are actively listening and that you understand their communication.
Avoiding Negative Messages
Most people don’t like negativity; unfortunately we all sometimes communicate negatively. However, this can be avoided in many cases.
First, pay close attention to your body language and expression.
Second, avoid whining and complaining. Instead, politely state your issue and offer a proposed solution. Even negative or critical messages can be well-received when they are delivered positively and respectfully. Offering a solution will show that you are not just complaining, but looking for a resolution.
If the negative or critical message will not be well-received by the other party, it becomes even more important to deliver the message in a positive manner. It is also important to listen well in these situations and remain focused on a resolution rather than assigning blame or dwelling on the issue.
Ways to Improve Communication Skills
All people have room for improvement in communication skills. There are a few ways that you can improve these.
Rather than responding immediately, take a moment to think. Assess the words and nonverbal communication of the other people involved. Consider what you want to communicate and how to do this effectively. It’s okay to say you need a moment to think before responding.
Once you have developed what you want to say, pay attention to your body language. Stand up straight, make good eye contact, and avoid a negative facial expression or tone. Then, say what you want to communicate in a way that encourages dialogue and problem-solving.
Communication works best when all parties focus on examining the facts, listening to each other’s point of view, and looking for a way to resolve the situation. Good communication requires a great deal of practice, but it helps to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It is difficult to figure out the best way to communicate in a variety of situations, but this skill can be mastered with enough practice and thought.
Communication is an important part of life so it is worth the effort.