Communication is one of the most important parts of life. Animals use it to get across vital information about danger and food, and people communicate to share their feelings and experiences. Although we may not all be born communicators, here are a few things you can try to improve your communication skills in your career, friendships, and relationships:
Communication is more than talking. Be a good listener. Everyone has something valuable to share, so give people a chance to talk. Listening is not only hearing. Be engaged and make sure you are focused on the person who’s talking. Try to understand their body language as well. Don’t interrupt, but provide constructive feedback. You shouldn’t agree with everything that you hear, but don’t judge people either. We all are different, right? You don’t eat meat, cool – just don’t judge the rest of the world. Show people your interest and respect by using phrases such as “I understand” and “Sounds like…” or by nodding and smiling, to show your support. Take the time to reflect on what’s been said or don’t be afraid to ask for more clarity.
Be honest. When it’s your time to talk, talk. If you want to get to the point and stop beating around the bush, avoid small talk or phrases such as “Some people say…”. Use ‘I’ statements where possible and don’t be afraid share your opinion. Tell the truth! Maybe lies have worked out well for you before or maybe you don’t know yourself yet, but try to be open. People can feel when you’re not sincere, especially when it comes to relationships. Show your partner you care: even a short message sent from work will show that you’re thinking of them. Talk, but don’t forget that silence isn’t always bad – make time for pauses and to organise your thoughts. A meaningful conversation is more important than constant talking. Honesty also works across the board, so don’t be scared to say you’re sorry or that you’re in love.
Pay attention to non-verbal signals. Body language makes up a big part of our communication, so we should learn to read and send the right messages. Look at people when you talk. Smile. Don’t fold your arms because that shows you’re defensive. Make sure your tone doesn’t sound aggressive. Bilingual people sound different when they speak different languages and may not sound as eloquent as in their first language, so make sure you understand and take into account cultural differences and backgrounds. Just because someone has an accent doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. Just because someone shows signs of anxiety doesn’t mean that they don’t like you – maybe they are just shy. Be aware of that and try to send positive messages.
Don’t be afraid to disagree. Arguments are normal, but try to make sure they are reasonable and peaceful. If something escalates, don’t try to win by reminding your friends, for example, of something they did ages ago, or by insulting people. Use information to discuss things, not emotions to manipulate people. Don’t be verbally aggressive: next time when someone pushes you on the bus, be polite and point that out, don’t just offend them. Use humour to solve problems: if your family tells you something you don’t like, be an adult and don’t go to your room – just joke about your mistake and change your behaviour.
Keep calm in order to communicate better. If for example you’re stressed out and around your boss, you may send the wrong body signals or say something you’ll regret. So keep calm, count to ten and breathe. You remember the great film “The King’s Speech”, don’t you?
Why is communication important? Because by communicating better we experience better physical and emotional well-being, we build better relationships and we achieve our goals. If our goal is to get a job, the best way to succeed is by staying calm and being honest at the interview. If we have an important presentation at school, we make a better impression when we smile and make eye contact with people. If we want to make up for something we’ve hurt our friends with, we should apologise, and listen to them about what we’ve done wrong in order to change our behaviour for the better. You don’t want to upset anyone again, right?
By communicating better we build a happier life, not only for ourselves, but for the people around us. So let’s send more messages full of love and start communicating with each other!