6 Guidelines of Improving Your Communication Skills
Communication is the key to so much of our life experience. We communicate ourselves in every relationship in our lives. We communicate to our family members, our spouses, children, parents, siblings, extended family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, employers, pets, strangers, employees, God, the Universe. Just to name a few of the obvious ones. However, we often do not recognize the main conversation rattling around in our brains with an almost constant fervor. The conversation we have with Ourselves (more on that in a bit).
I’ve always said, communication is an art form. The words we utter to one another can have long lasting positive, or alternatively, negative effect on the recipient of our utterings.
Since I was a young child, I have been known as an outstanding communicator. Rarely, could you find me in quiet solitude. Most often I spent my time conversing with others. Even, only slightly older than a toddler, I can remember standing up and looking over the restaurant booth to speak to the family next to us at a diner. I was barely able to look over and see them, but I just knew I had friends over there. I can distinctly remember the red, shiny, vinyl booth seats at our neighborhood Perkins Family Restaurant with the smell of pancakes and syrup hovering in the air. I was so excited, these were new people to meet, so they were obviously new friends of mine now. And, that is how I have lived most of my life, embodying the adage, “A stranger is just someone I haven’t met yet”.
It’s easy to talk to strangers though, isn’t it? We have nothing invested in those conversations. Sometimes we are just passing the time. The more difficult communications are the ones we have with people that are the closest to us and that we are in a relationship with. These relationships range from our families, to our coworkers to our lovers and spouses. These are the relationships that so much hinges on the way we communicate to one another.
Scientists discovered that parents have to speak 20 comments of affirmations to neutralize one negative criticism to their children. They discovered how a positive self-esteem can grow and flourish in the confines of the nuclear family, when words of affirmation are spoken to the child. Let’s speak kindly to one another!!
When I say there is an art to communication, I really mean it. What I have come to discover is how important our intention is behind what we are saying and how well our counterpart in the conversation reacts to the conversation.
See, to be a successful communicator, you must know how to express yourself in such a way that the person you are speaking to, will receive the message you are trying to convey.
Here are some tips in conveying your messages through verbal communication:
1. Try your best to keep the conversation neutral without blaming your counterpart for how you feel. Begin the conversation like this: “I feel like…” or, “this causes me to respond like this…” Keep it neutral! Remember, you want your partner to HEAR and RECEIVE your message!
2. Although sometimes we cannot control when a conversation takes over, we can try to take our partner’s feelings into consideration when beginning a conversation. In plain terms, timing is so important when broaching a subject you wish to discuss. Be smart when you choose to communicate! Have your important conversations when no one is feeling fatigued or stressed (if you can!)
3. Listen. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we want to say, we fail to set our intentions on listening to what our partner in the conversation is trying to communicate to us. It is vitally important to sharpen your listening skills! Communication is a two-way street!
4. Honesty. It is imperative that we become impeccable stewards of our speech. Even when the conversation is uncomfortable, we must hold ourselves to the high esteem of speaking an honestly as possible. We all know, “the truth shall set you free”, and it always does.
5. Spontaneity. Even though we ought to consider the timing of our conversations when they are strained, nothing beats the excitement of spontaneity! Some of our best conversations happen off the cuff. You never know when the stars align and your communication is a dreamy, magical one.
6. Self-Expression. Most importantly, I believe it is imperative that we have the safety, security and courage to express ourselves in all of our relationships. If you are in a relationship where you are unable to self-express, I would reconsider if it is a positive place for you. With that said, if it is a way of being that is foreign to you, then gather your strength and courage to begin exercising the muscle of self-expression.