Communication is the foundation of healthy relationships
Is it trust? Love? Laughter? Lust? No? Then what? Think about it…. What is necessary- what needs to come first- for all of these other components of a relationship to take root? Communication, of course! You cannot build trust with another person without getting to know them first! Similarly, it would be awfully hard to fall in love with someone if you could never speak to, see, or reach out to them. Communication, in the form of body language, has a great deal to do with lust, as well.
There a number of forms of communication, including verbal, nonverbal (anything besides spoken words- i.e. gestures, facial expressions, and aspects of physical appearance) communication. Each of them are equally important, and you use all of them daily whether you realize it or not.
Effective communication is everything for a well-established, long lasting, relationship- whether it is a romantic partnership or just a friendship! Whether you are working out a conflict, expressing your aspirations for the future, or just catching up after parting for a while, one word should be top of mind when you are communicating with friends, lovers, and loved ones: Respect. Respect is the key to effective communication and healthy relationships!
However, respect is not the only thing you should keep in mind when communicating; there are a few others, too. Read on for some healthy habits of highly effective communicators, and make note of the tips that you think you could implement in your daily life:
Making sure that words and actions match:
Ever heard the cliché phrase, “actions speak louder than words”? It’s overused for a reason! If you repetitively don’t live up to your promises, the ones you love will inevitably start to tune them out.
Breaking it down:
Using unusually large words in casual conversation may be fun for you, and it may even make you feel a bit superior sometimes, too. However, breaking things down as simply as possible (without being patronizing, of course) ensures that your message will be heard loud and clear- just the way you meant it. “Breaking it down” eliminates the communication barriers that differing vocabularies and education levels can pose.
Sometimes people take on a ‘sanitized’ or overly formal voice when having important conversations, because they think that it will make others take them more seriously or see them as more put-together. Putting up a front of sorts can also make difficult conversations a bit easier, because doing so provides the speaker with a way to disassociate themselves from what they are saying. Unfortunately, this technique often backfires, leading the listener to feel as if the person speaking to them isn’t ‘all there’ and is uninterested or ‘too good’ for the conversation. Don’t be afraid to let a little emotion show through in your voice. Being genuine will get you farther than being fake!
Practicing active listening skills:
One of the biggest problems that friends, families, and lovers run into in regards to communication is that they spend much of their time in conversation listening to respond. Instead, you should be listening to understand. When you know where the other person is coming from, you’ll be able to reach real compromise and avoid making he or she feel as if you only care about your own point of view. Don’t be afraid to take a pause after your companion speaks to gather your thoughts and craft your reply. It is much better than ignoring their point of view to craft a reply as they speak to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either; it’s a vital part of active listening. Your friend, lover, or family member is much more likely to take questions as a sign that you are paying attention and want to understand them better than as a sign that you are being rude and/or interrupting them!
Being specific doesn’t have to mean being patronizing. Including as many details and examples as possible in your conversations gives the impression that you are open, truthful, and knowledgeable. Additionally, it shows others that you really care that they understand you, and reduces the chances of miscommunication.
This list is not the be-all end-all of stopping miscommunication and ensuring that effective communication takes its place, but it is a wonderful place to start. If you have any tips or tricks to share or stories about how you’ve been able to break down communication barriers in the past, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.