Who knew there was a whole week in November dedicated to having better conversations? Well, I happen to think it’s a brilliant idea. In my experience, miscommunication can cause a whole host of relationship problems. Let’s talk about how to have better conversations every day.
Why is Good Communication Important?
I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I say that communication truly is the key to success. I’m not just talking about your professional endeavors either, poor communication skills can wreak havoc on your personal relationships too.
In relationships, miscommunicating can lead to unhappiness and a multitude of arguments. It can leave you feeling misunderstood, confused, and probably a bit angry to be honest.
In a professional setting, having poor communication skills can put you in situations where you aren’t getting what you need, your boss or customers aren’t getting what they need, and it can make you feel taken advantage of if you cannot express yourself.
What’s the benefit of having good communication skills?
There are many perks to being able to express yourself and understand others. Let’s explore some of these benefits.
If you are able to express clear expectations and objectives there is a much smaller chance that you will be misunderstood. It’s also beneficial to be able to provide feedback and praise or constructive criticism when needed.
Being able to communicate expectations and needs ahead of time can help to eliminate conflicts, confusion, and hurt feelings down the road.
Building Trust and Intimacy
The better you are at communicating your needs and expectations, the more other people will trust you because they will know where they stand in your relationship. This will also aid in establishing a feeling of intimacy which just means a closeness and familiarity with each other.
It’s important to be able to express yourself and what you are trying to say. You should have not only strong verbal skills but written skills as well.
These are especially important in a professional setting since many jobs require you to be able to not only communicate face to face but often through emails too, which can be tricky.
Personally, your ability to express yourself as well as understand what is being said to you is a vital part of having a healthy relationship. Being a good listener goes a long way to having better conversations every day.
How to Have Better Conversations Every day
This all sounds great, right? But now you’re probably wondering how this can all be achieved.
First off I want to tell you that improving your communications skills is something anyone can do if they just put in the effort.
Improving your communication skills should be something you are always striving to improve, no one is perfect at it, only by working on your skills regularly, will you succeed.
Now let’s get into some actionable steps you can take to have better conversations every day.
Learn how to give and take criticism
Criticism isn’t always a bad thing, in fact, you can learn a lot from the right kind of criticism. It also depends on how you choose to take that criticism.
You never want to just straight up criticize someone. That’s the wrong way to do it. Instead, you should always offer a solution or suggestion along with the critique so the person can use the information to improve.
Learning how to accept criticism is also important, but can be difficult to do. You should try to take criticism as useful feedback and an opportunity for you to improve yourself. Try not to let hurt feelings keep you from coming back even stronger and developing a new skill.
Remember not to respond to criticism with anger whenever possible, this will just escalate the situation and won’t resolve anything. It’s always better to try to understand why the other person is feeling so frustrated and to try to find a resolution together rather than argue.
Understand how to be a good listener
Here are some tips for how to be a good listener so people know you are hearing them:
- Make eye contact. I’m not saying you have to stare them in the eye the entire time they are speaking, that would be awkward, but make sure you are facing them, giving them your full attention. Put your phone away and try to stay focused on what they are saying.
- Nod your head when appropriate and say mmm hmm or okay occasionally, so they know you are engaged.
- Try not to interrupt them. If they go on and on without a break, you can give them a visual clue that you have a question or want to say something. Wait for them to acknowledge you and pause before speaking.
- Make sure your comments or questions are on topic. Don’t start talking about your day or some other random thing, now is not the time. Finish this conversation before bringing up new topics.
- When it’s your turn to respond, it’s best practice to repeat what they told you. You should do this by summarizing and saying something like, “What I heard you say was _______”, or “ I think you are saying _______ is that right?”
Know how to express yourself
Before you begin a conversation, you should first think about what you want to say and what you hope the outcome will be. Going in without a plan might not yield the results you were hoping for.
Decide on ways you can get your point across while avoiding blame, shame, or frustration. Being calm and expressing your concerns or needs clearly will help the recipient to be more receptive to what you are saying.
Understand non-verbal communication
Non-verbal communication or signals are things like making eye contact, nodding your head, uncrossing or crossing your arms in front of you(which you shouldn’t do), the way you are standing or sitting, how you’re holding yourself, and whether or not you are facing the speaker and giving them your undivided attention.
It’s important to note here that you should also “know your audience”. This is especially important when speaking to someone you’ve just met or don’t know well. Different cultures for example have different ways of communicating and some things you think are acceptable, they may find rude.
Know how to use written communication effectively
Emails and texts have got to be some of the most misinterpreted forms of communication.
It’s very important to re-read your written communication and even read it out loud to get a good idea of the tone of the message. Jokes and sarcasm are often misconstrued as giving off an attitude or being rude.
Reasons why written conversations are tricky:
- A reader cannot see you, therefore cannot read your body language
- The reader may not be able to tell the tone you intended
- You forgot who you were writing to
- Some information might be missing or forgotten
- Your writing is disorganized
Best practices when communicating in writing:
- Know what you are writing before you begin
- Pay close attention to the tone of your writing. Never do it when you are upset or angry, wait until you have had time to calm down and think rationally.
- Try to stay on topic
- Write in simple terms to avoid misinterpretation
- Take care of what you include in your writing, remember written communication can be used against you later
- Always, always, always proof-read your writing before sending it. Check for spelling and grammar errors as well as ensuring the tone it’s conveying is the intended tone.
- You may even want to consider using a grammar checking program like Grammarly so you don’t end up writing something that’s difficult to read
There you have it!
Learning how to have better conversations every day can go a long way in nurturing thriving relationships both personally and professionally.
Improving your communication is something you should always be striving to achieve. With a few simple guidelines, you can develop your communication skills and strengthen your technique.
Having better conversations is important because being misunderstood can not only make you feel frustrated but also leave the person you are talking to feel miffed and annoyed.
Some advantages to having good communication skills are:
- Problem resolution
- Building trust
- Being understood
How to Have Better Conversations Every Day:
- Learn how to give and take criticism
- Be a good listener
- Know how to express yourself
- Understand non-verbal cues
- Know how to use written communication effectively
Developing strong communication skills will be a lifelong work in progress. It’s something you can always get better at doing and should never stop trying to have better conversations every day.
Looking for more like this?
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How to Get Your Emotional Wellness Under Control so you can be in the right frame of mind before you try to have deep discussions with others.