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!):
- 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).
- 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…”
- 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?
- 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.
- 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,