3 Tips to Better Communication

Let’s be plain and simple here: most people don’t like to be wrong or be told what to do – that’s just a fact. Throughout your life, you’re going to come across all types of people in all types of environments, be it work, school, relationships, friends, etc. Somewhere along that road, you’re going to be met with people who aren’t like you at all. Some people don’t think the same way, have the same values, or react to things like you do. 

Part of growing up and becoming an adult is learning how to be respectful to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations – seems pretty easy, right? Wrong! It’s way easier said than done. You could be a super level-headed, low-maintenance person, but what happens if you’re put into a team project at work with someone who’s controlling, over-bearing and stubborn? It goes way deeper than just "being civil and respectful". Here are 3 (of many) ways to communicate effectively!

  1. 1. Be as good of a listener as you are a speaker!

    There’s a lot of ways to interpret this one. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between hearing and listening – but they’re two very different things. For starters, just hearing something is minimal and basic. You could hear anything: other people typing their notes during a lecture, a fan in your bedroom, cars driving by your home, the wind outside – literally anything. You don’t think twice about these things – you’re just made aware of those sounds.

    Listening, on the other hand, is more specific. You don’t listen for someone typing their notes or the wind blowing outside. You listen to your professor speaking – there’s a difference! When you listen, you’re engaged. You are focused and give all your attention to that specific sound in that exact moment. You take in which words they’re using, how their tone of voice sounds, what emotions their face is expressing, and their posture. All of these little details get considered because listening has a purpose. You can hear things with no purpose. When you’re listening, you’re considering numerous details to reach an understanding or to help the person with something; there’s a reason behind it!

    As fun as it is to argue about something so passionately and speak your mind, it is so important to reciprocate that same amount of effort and passion into listening to the other side. If you feel as if you’re in a space where you can comfortably and openly express what you’re thinking and feeling, it’s essential to extend that same care and comfort to the person you’re communicating with – no matter what the relationship is.

  2. 2. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

    It’s easier said than done. You know those low days where you’re constantly fighting inner battles with yourself? Everything just feels wrong, whether it’s feeling like something is missing or feeling like no one understands. What you’re going through inside is a complete secret to those around you unless you say something. If you don’t, they will always have their own assumptions. It’s the same case for when it’s the other way around. When you’re talking to someone, you wouldn’t know what’s happening in their minds unless they were to say something out loud. If you’re getting agitated during a conversation for whatever the reason may be, rather than acting out, just take a breather and think. Something I like to do is physically take a deep breath before responding to someone – it grounds me and forces me to slow down. In this day and age, there’s always something someone is struggling with. Whether or not they make it known, the absolute least thing you can do for them is be understanding and patient.

  3. 3. Learn to keep your cool!

    Building off of Tip #2… CHILL OUT! Step back, take a breather and reorganize yourself. Losing your temper while trying to communicate with someone is one of the worst things to do. It doesn’t solve any part of the situation, it makes the other person feel terrible and it’s not exactly healthy for you either. I find that by asking this single question, it can ease a lot of those racing thoughts: “Can you fix the problem?”. Simple, right? It’s a yes or no question! If your answer is yes, then why freak out? You can solve the problem – fabulous! If your answer is no, then why freak out? You can’t change the situation, it is what it is, so why worry? Try this trick next time you feel your heart rate picking up during a not-so-pleasant conversation.

To a lot of us, overlooking the importance and difficulty of communicating is second nature. Typically, no one thinks twice when it comes to effective communication; we tend to find other things to blame our problems on. There’s a reason why poor communication is the most common reason why so many relationships (not just romantic ones) fall apart! As a part of growing up, learning how to self-reflect is a must. Life really doesn’t have to consist of drama. Communication is the key to the success of any relationship and these 3 tips can help you get there