Communication breakdown is the leading cause of trouble in most relationships. Heightened emotions, yelling, the silent treatment, being unable to find the right words, misunderstanding others and being misunderstood are just some of the many problems caused by miscommunication. So, how do we avoid conflict and confusion when sharing our thoughts with one another?
Effective communication entails sharing information in a clear and understandable way. To share effectively though, you must also be able to listen to and understand what is being shared with you. Process the information being revealed before asking questions or responding—be an active listener. In addition to the words, pay attention to the emotions behind the message. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language sometimes carry more meaning than our words do. Remain non-judgmental and avoid interrupting the other person when they are speaking. Listen quietly, without filling pauses or over-responding. Paraphrase what you hear for clarification, and to show your interest. Make eye contact, and keep your posture open. Try to remain self-aware when it is your turn to speak, paying extra attention to your own tone and non-verbal cues. You will better understand and interact with others if you have a solid understanding of yourself first. Speak constructively rather than attackingly. Negative and hurtful words cause people to either fight or shut down. Either way, this breaks down both listening and communicating efforts. If you want to communicate effectively, avoid putting people on the defensive. Share your thoughts in a constructive and positive manner.
Ultimately, communication relies on sensibly balancing your emotions and your intellect. Recognize that all people, including you, are affected by differing perceptions and emotions. This has a direct effect on your communication efforts. By staying open, calm, and perceptive, you increase the chances for effective and healthy communication to occur. *“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” If we can truly listen and hear one another, discussions will remain calmer, more effective, and more productive. In turn, conflict will be avoided, allowing for happier and healthier relationships.
(*Quote by Stephen Covey)
By: Corinne Blumenthal