Communication is what brings us humans together. Communication at its best can express much love and adoration, but yet on the opposite spectrum can portray anger and frustration, based on the current state of emotions that one has. It has the power to make or break your relationship. In a relationship, more often than not we experience problems expressing ourselves and understanding what the other party wants. And sometimes, we just don’t get what’s going wrong. Have you ever been engaged in a quarrel to only halfway stop and wonder what you both were quarreling about in the first place? Humans are not born with equipped with superb communication abilities, it’s a skill that we should always look to better ourselves in- and good communication can shorten or even avoid tons of misunderstandings and quarrels. Here are 10 steps that you can take to communicate more effectively with people- not just your partner, but family, friends and people in general.
1. Identify communication styles
While we seem to be speaking the same language, we might not necessarily be doing so all the time. Each of us have a unique communication style influenced by many factors such as age, gender, culture.
2. Stop and listen (with your heart, not your ears)
This gets difficult to do when an argument arises. Some of us find it so hard to listen because we’re too preoccupied with sending our own point across. We just want to be heard and we rush to keep talking. This is when our judgment becomes blurred, because we’re not considering both sides of the story. Learn to listen, and show the other party that you’re actually trying to listen. This will go a long way. If someone feels listened to and understood, he/she will be more inclined to listening as well.
3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
Much communication goes across despite us not saying anything verbally. Non-verbal refers to the tone of your voice, eye contact, your stance, hand gestures, the distance between you and your partner, and these can tell someone a lot- how open we are to talking/listening, how aggressive we are, and how willing you are in resolving the disagreement. Learn to control your own body language to remain
4. Stay focused on the topic
Let’s face it, arguments mostly tend to morph into something entirely different from what it started out from. A simple disagreement over ‘not switching the tv’ off can evolve into ‘you don’t love me. Bringing in other previous disagreements will not help to solve the matter but only makes things worse and far more complicated. It also escalates negative emotion and one starts to feel angry about anything and everything that’s brought up. It’s important to stay focused on what the original discussion was about, and stay on track.
5. Minimize emotion, speak rationally
When you’re arguing, you’re emotionally charged-up with all the (pent-up) rage and frustration. This can cause one to ramble on. Try to look past it, and focus on how to resolve the problem instead. Speak rationally. ‘Fact-based’ statements are easier for the other party to relate to as compared to throwing out your emotions.
6. Recognize what’s important to your partner
7. Be ready to give in
“Give in” doesn’t mean “give up”. It doesn’t mean you walk away, and leave the quarrel hanging. What giving in here means, is to not make winning your goal. This only makes it harder to resolve any disagreements. Look for the areas where you can give in to the other party, & when one starts giving in, the other party will find it harder lashing out, and continue to be stubborn and aggressive.
8. Actions speak louder than words
Always be ready to walk the talk. Try to not spout out nonsense on the heat of the moment, like “I want a break up” or “let’s go our separate ways”. This clearly will be a statement fuelled by anger, irritation and frustration. When speaking of breaking up, you should always have it backed by a rational thought process, not a highly-charged emotional conversation. These statements are very hurtful, and serve to chip away at the foundations of your relationship. Learn to always be ready to follow up (with action) whatever you say. Keeping this in mind will help you ward off a lot of nonsense hurtful comments.
9. Lighten up and laugh it off 10. Question your assumptions and put yourself in the person’s shoes.
We always tend to make assumptions about everything- people, situations. And we jump to bad ones faster than the good ones. Learn to question them- are these assumptions valid? Are they based on facts or just merely speculations? If you truly love the person, this is now the best time to show it. As hard as it gets, shift your perspective from just merely being focused on what you want, to what the other person wants. Take a moment to stop thinking about how you’re feeling, to think about how the other person is feeling. By taking the step to move away from yourself, you will naturally have a softer approach, which is what every argument needs.
Extra Tip: Use other channels of communication as well!
There are so many options out there. Face-to-face might not always be the best way to have a discussion or resolve an argument. Sometimes, texting, emailing, or even through social media channels can help to bring across messages clearly and more directly. Plus, there’s also time to think about what you say (type) before you send it across. Of course, these methods take out a huge chunk of (positive and negative) emotion, so be sure to use them carefully!