You Say Tomato

We all know the classic phrase: “You say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to.”

I’m pretty sure it’s from an old song, but that’s not the point. How do we understand each other when we each say ‘tomato’ differently? Silly question, right? But when the question is asked about everything we say and every nonverbal cue, the answer isn’t so straightforward.

Effective communication is key to all of life’s relationships, from the office to the home. And bad communication, well, it can be truly detrimental to relationships of all sorts.

So today I want to share my favorite tips for improving communication. And I want you to comment your favorites too. I truly believe that, no matter who you are, we can all learn something from each other, so I want to hear your thoughts too.

Here are my tips for more effective communication (many of them learned the hard way!):

  1. Pay full attention. When having a conversation, don’t spend the time that the other person is speaking thinking  of the next think you will say. This can be difficult, but try to spend it listening actively (see number two).
  2. Listen actively. This means stopping periodically to confirm and/or clarify that you’ve understood the other person as they intended. For example, saying, “Just to make sure I understand, what I’m hearing you say is…”
  3. Learn others’ communication styles. This is hard when first getting to know someone, but pretty quickly you can gauge their preferred style. Do they hate talking on the phone? Are the slow to respond via text? Do they keep their language formal, or colloquial?
  4. Give praise freely. OK, so hear me out on this one. I realize this isn’t a typical tip for communicating better. But I truly believe that when we accentuate the positives that we see in other people, we immediately set a stage rich for better communication. Think of this tip like choosing the best potting soil before attempting to plant a garden.
  5. Say thank you. Given how much ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are drilled into our heads as children (one hopes), it would seem that this should be second nature. But it is SO easy to take someone’s deeds for granted not say it enough.

So tell me, what are your personal tips for more effective communication?

I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

Until next time,

xoxo Charlotte

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12 comments

  1. Another is don’t pick fights – my wife has taught me to practice ‘wise speech’ – a self check to determine if my comments are well-intended, true, beneficial (necessary), timely, and not harshly delivered. The only problem with this is you find yourself silent most of the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great addition, Jeff! I can’t believe I forgot to add one of my favorite quotes, which is essentially the same as what you say: “Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? And is it necessary?”

      You are right, though, about this tactic sometimes leading to a lot of silence. Whenever I find myself in that situation, I just tell the other person, “I’m staying silent so that I don’t say something I regret.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some very great points there. I think another valid one would be not to misread others’ emotions or believe that a bad mood they may be in is necessarily because of you. I suffer from a natural guilty conscience so automatically wonder what I might have done wrong if somebody is in a bad mood, but I find I make it worse if I assume the bad mood is because of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yet another way in which I find we are similar, Paul. For reasons totally unknown to me, I have had a guilt complex for literally as long as I can remember. Which feels odd, since I was a well behaved child (a goody-two-shoes really) and have never broken the law, cheated on someone, etc. Obviously I’ve said things off the cuff that I didn’t mean and later regretted, or done things that have accidentally hurt someone’s feelings, but nothing severe enough to warrant a true guilt complex. Anyway, all of that is to say that I totally relate to what you say here. Perhaps some people, ourselves included, are just wired to have an abnormally guilty conscience? I’m no psychologist, but I feel like too many people out there have too little of a guilty conscience. But that’s an opinion for another post, I suppose.

      Anyway, I totally get what you mean here. I do that all the time, where I’ll internalize someone’s fowl mood or frustrated facial expression and start panicking that I’ve done something to upset them. I’ve found that I have to try to remind myself that it is likely not due to me, and if it is, then the onus is on the other person to come to me if they have a problem, since I can’t be a mind reader.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that is a mind-set I need to adopt and I am trying to. I think if a person has a problem with something I’m doing then they kind of have a responsibility to tell me about it. Leaving people guessing is a pretty douchey move. I hate those people who believe their SO should naturally just know what they’re thinking. What an egotistical viewpoint to have. As though their thoughts are so damned important that they should be common knowledge. Guilt is a wanton slut of a mistress to carry around when you have no real need to feel it at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree. I used to think it was my responsibility to unearth a problem someone had with me. But now I realize it’s all on them. We can’t be mind readers, after all.

        And that statement about guilt is poetic perfection. “A wanton slut of a mistress.” Love it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It surely is all on them and no more will I ever try to second guess a person’s bad mood. If they haven’t the respect to be forthcoming about what their mood is about then I don’t owe them the respect to ask.
        I use the wanton slut term every so often when the occasion befits it. Haha

        Liked by 1 person

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