I’ve been watching several relationships around me recently, and one of the big things I am taking note of is the need to communicate well and that if we are troubled or feeling unheard to make sure we talk it out.
The fact is good communication skills and openness between people will either make or break a relationship. If one person feels like they can’t they'll “blow” up or decide it’s too hard and slowly walk away from the relationship.
But we can practice communicating and improve in this important skill. Here are some useful tips for effective communication:
1. Process your feelings first – to be heard, we need to be able to articulate what we are thinking and feeling without getting overly angry or upset. If you go into a conversation feeling very angry, upset or too emotional, the communication tends to become too heated and difficult to find a resolution.
2. Choose your time to talk
If something is on your mind, give the other person a heads up that you’d like to sit down and talk. This can help de-escalate the situation as the other person won’t feel ambushed or blindsided with a heated debate,”
3. Use appropriate language
Begin conversations with how you are feeling. You can ensure you do this by using statements that start with “I.” Instead of calling out a person for focusing too much on work or not being present with you, you could say, “I feel hurt or ignored when you always focus on work.” This is less accusatory than saying, “You’re always focusing on work.”
4. Focus on being heard and then practice listening.
Aim that your communication results in everyone leaving a conversation feeling there has been some resolution.
Usually, a resolution relies on compromise, whether dividing chores, altering schedules or making financial decisions.
Aiming to resolve situations through effective communication, creates feelings of strength, and connection and enables people to forgive and move forward.
5. Use your words wisely
Our words can lift or tear down, so use them wisely. Rather than using put-downs or sarcasm, use your communication constructively. Be aware of inappropriate humour when you’re arguing. If you want to break the ice, it’s better to make a harmless joke about yourself than say something negative about someone else.
Send a message, card or leave a note to communicate what you are thinking, or even just where you are and what you are doing today. In addition to providing practical information, it shows that you’re thinking of those close to you.
6. Focus on nonverbal communication. Mastering nonverbal cues and nonverbal signals can help prevent miscommunication. Pay attention to your facial expressions and body language when speaking with someone in a professional setting. Your nonverbal cues affect the first impression you make on someone. Maintaining eye contact, limiting hand gestures, and having good posture go a long way when meeting someone for the first time.
Rather than bottling everything up until later, if you are having a difficult day, let others you are in a relationship with know, rather than waiting until you explode or withdraw. Try using a scale of 1 to 10 to let others close to you know how your day is going.
Good communication is the desire to know someone – to know their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, opinions, and heart. Without that desire and active pursuit to communicate well, we will be limited and lack real clarity, understanding, and the ability to respond effectively.
I encourage you to take some time today to think about and practice building your communication skills because communicating well is one of the most powerful keys to healthy growing relationships.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger". (Proverbs 15:1)
Prayer: Lord, help me have ears to hear and a heart to understand you and those around me more today. In Jesus name Amen