5 Ways to Increase Quality Communication
Do you feel like your family, significant other, or friends just don’t “get” you? Are they unaware of when you are upset or stressed? Do you argue, but never seem to get to a solid solution? You may have issues with communication. The thing about communication is that it can always be improved. Nobody is a perfect communicator, but the important thing is that you try. Quality communication is crucial in work relationships, marriages, friendships, parenting, and any other situation in which you interact with others.
Enjoy my tips on how to increase the quality of your communication:
1. Let go of pride
This one is first on the list because I find this one the hardest to do. If you miss someone, tell them. If you are mad at someone, let them know. If you are ready to say sorry, say sorry. Too often, people hold back on communication due to social pressures (“play hard to get”) or the fear of rejection.
What helps me get past this is thinking about the worst case scenario. If I want to ask someone out, the worst they can do is say no. My life won’t be forever affected by their answer, so why let it hold me back? Who knows? They might even say yes and we have a fun date together! Playing hard to get is a common “tip” for dating or making friendships. If you are interested in someone, tell them. If you want to be friends with someone, let them know you have similar interests. This leads me to my next tip on the list.
2. Don’t assume
Don’t assume that your friend, family member, or partner knows how you are feeling. They cannot read your mind (wouldn’t that make things simple?) even if you think they should be able to. Saying things like “you should know, you should have noticed” are phrases commonly used when we assume (I have been guilty of this, too). Sometimes, people really just don’t know or are oblivious to your internal thoughts, feelings, and body language.
3. Say what you mean/express yourself
Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say one thing, but mean the opposite, don’t hope the other person is going to be able to decipher your attempt at reverse psychology. For example, imagine you had been looking forward to having a movie night with your significant other, but they call and tell you they got invited to go out with friends. You may be a little disappointed, but also happy to have a night to yourself. You could also be hurt and sad about the change of plans. If you are okay with it, tell them that. If you feel upset about it, do not just tell them it is okay and hope they read your mind and make the decision to stay home. You should let them know (*in a calm manner*) that you were really looking forward to spending time together and that you want to keep the movie night plan or reschedule. What happens after that is partially out of your control, but you were honest to your partner about how you felt and left no room for them to assume, which often causes miscommunication.
4. Be an active listener
When someone wants to tell you how they feel about something, listen to them. Resist the urge to interrupt or start talking about your own experiences. Put your phone down and make eye contact with the person so they know they have your attention. Ask them questions to clarify what they are saying if you don’t understand.
Using the example above, imagine your significant other uses open communication with you as well. They let you know that they haven’t seen some of the friends who will be in attendance for months and that it’s really important for them to see the friends. Active listening gives you the chance to process the information and understand your partner’s reasoning. You may have thought they didn’t care about movie night, but now that they explained why going out was so important, you have a better understanding of their thought process.
5. Keep an open mind
Remember that everyone thinks and processes information differently. You may be super observant and can tell the moment your friend is upset about something. Your friend, on the other hand, may be oblivious to your body language and has trouble figuring out when you are upset.
Don’t assume that just because you notice things, other people will. When in an argument, try to stay open minded about why the person feels the way they do (this can sometimes be extremely hard!). This way, you can view the disagreement from another person’s point of view. Just because you keep an open mind does not mean that you have to agree with everything a person says to you. Keeping an open mind just helps you to consider how the other person is thinking and feeling before making your own decision about what to do next.
Communication can be hard! If you feel like you want or need to work on your communication skills, therapy can help. Therapists have the training and experience needed to help you improve your social and communication skills. If you want to improve any of these skills, feel free to schedule an intake appointment with one of our wonderful therapists at Fluerish using the link below: