Relationships do not exist in a vacuum. They exist between two emotional individuals who bring their own baggage into the relationship. On top of their own baggage and expectations, each individual has to deal with their partner's issues as well. When dealing with others, not all people communicate the same way. People generally have different skill levels when it comes to communicating. Since it is a skill, better communication can be learned.
The ability to effectively communicate one's thoughts and feelings keep relationships strong. To keep overreacting and stress to a minimal, individuals should learn how to improve their communication skills. There are many ways to improve communication in relationships, but three essential steps to better communication are to stop and listen, pay attention to nonverbal signals, and compromise.
1. Stop and listen.
How many times have one heard someone say "stop and listen" or read it in an article about ways to improve communication? Stop and listen sounds easy, but it is actually harder than it sounds. When two people are in a heated disagreement, it is difficult to set aside their point of view to listen. Since one is often so afraid of not being heard, they tend to "over-talk" the other person. Ironically, this behavior makes it more than likely one will not be heard.
Sadly, most people do not do a very good job of listening. Whenever one feels threatened or upset, they will put their defensives up and lash out at the one who caused those feelings. To avoid any further miscommunication, the first good communication skill involves understanding. This means to listen and try to view the situation through the other person's eyes. Next, be forceful. It is imperative to be able to express feelings openly and honestly. Lastly, always be respectful. Treat the other person kindly even though you may be frustrated and annoyed.
2. Pay attention to nonverbal signals.
Most communication is not what one says but how they say it. Nonverbal communication is body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and avoidance of personal space. Learning to communicate better means learning how to read nonverbal signals. This could be tedious and take time, but learning common signals is useful. For example,
- When one folds their arms, it usually means that they are feeling defensive.
- Lack of eye contact means one is not interested in anything being said or find it difficult to talk about something.
- An aggressive tone of voice means one is becoming emotionally involved and feels they are not being heard.
- If someone is avoiding another or keeping distance between them when they talk usually means they are disinterested.
How many times have one continue to argue because they want to be "right." Why is there a sense of the need to "win" an argument? Simply put, there is also that "one" person who always think they are right. As for the other person, they will not back down. In fact, usually both parties in an argument need to cede because if not, nothing will ever get solved. Compromising is the way to back away from an argument. By doing this, one will not give up a piece of themselves and not stuck on "being right."
Nobody is a perfect communicator all the time. But everyone can work on becoming a better communicator by trying these three tips. They might not work all the time or might not work at all. But it only takes one person to make the effort to improve their communication skills and this usually encourages others.