Improve your relationships with better communication
Communication is a necessity. It’s how we connect with others, share information, learn, educate, show affection. The majority of our communication is nonverbal, but this does not minimize the significance of verbal communication. When we talk with others, what we say, how we say it, and even how we listen, are integral to connecting with others. Thus, we need to be intentional about doing it well.
Sometimes when we communicate, we forget that we actually need to put effort into listening to the other person. Many of us can get caught up in trying to think of the next thing we want to say, instead of really listening to the content, or underlying message of others. Sometimes this is our way of relating, other times it’s because we are uncomfortable with silent space, we aren’t interested in the conversation, or other things distract us. To be fully engaged, we need to set aside distractions (like our phones), and provide some sort of feedback. This feedback can be in the form of a reflection like, “Wow, sounds like you really had an awful day,” or “You worked really hard this week.” These statements can often be really validating. Now, don’t reflect everything a person says. Pick the important highlights of their message. This helps a lot with communicating more effectively, and lets the person know that you are trying to understand them. If you cannot separate other distractions during the time another person is trying to communicate with you, tell them. You can save a lot of time and repeating with your honesty.
Honesty is another important asset of communication. Sometimes we forego honesty because we fear rejection, hurt, or conflict. Honesty can be respectful, kind, and nurturing. If it is communicated in a caring manner, starting with a kind appreciation, you will have better results and a deeper conversation with the person. It takes risk. Relationships require risk, and risk can be used to grow relationships. That should be your aim.
Be specific. When talking to a person, ask them specific questions if you want specific answers. Sometimes we take for granted the typical phrase, “how are you?” especially when we respond with the automatic default answer, “good”. This tells us nothing in the relationship, except that maybe we don’t feel like thinking about how we really are, or have not had a real chance to process this before being asked. Dive into the specifics of someone’s day by asking about situations, events, circumstances that happened. Open-ended questions are a great way to gather more information, too.
Lastly, using the term “we” can be a great way to offset any perceived blame, or defensiveness in relationships. Many of us get stuck in the “me” or “you” mentality, which inadvertently implies selfishness, or blame. “We”, on the other hand, conveys unity, teamwork, partnership, and mutual responsibility. This is great terminology to use in deeper friendships or relationships, but could also be applied to some other work, or team related activities. You may get some interesting looks at first, but if you continue to use this, you may find that other people do, too.
There are plenty of other communication strategies to practice, but some of these basic ones operate as important cornerstones for the rest. Start small, and when you overcome some of the nuances in your communication, like not really listening, asking vague questions, or avoiding honesty, you might be surprised how much your communication strategies positively improve. It only takes one small step to start.
Idea/Concept: Dr. Mayo
Videography: Kaitlyn Callahan
Video Editing: Kaitlyn Callahan
Writing: Dr. Mayo
Anchor: Dr. Mayo
Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by UPMC Susquehanna