Updated: Nov 29, 2022
I mentioned previously that the number one rule for effective communication is RESPECT. Respectful communication is the key to a healthy relationship. Respect is a well-used term that means having a feeling of deep admiration for someone for his or her abilities, qualities, or achievements – or the act of giving particular attention (Webster).
Last week I shared an exercise where you were to discuss just ONE point for no more than twenty minutes, trying to stay focused and create a space of non-judgment, slow down your thoughts and clarify what the other person is thinking and feeling without necessarily trying to solve the problem. The only thing we were truly trying to do was to hear what the other person was feeling. The goal of the exercise was to relieve some stress and emotional overload from a current relationship.
Let’s stay on the communication pathway and expand our conversation using the following techniques:
Non-judgmental Environment for conversation. (Last week)
Stay Focused – if you are not focused on the conversation at hand because you are thinking of what you want to say next, daydreaming, looking at phone messages, or doing anything other than listening to the other party then you are not being a present listener and you’ll miss many non-verbal cues. For instance, you might be missing out on the person telling you they love you with sparkly eyes and only hear part of the conversation, causing this to become a misunderstood conversation. Stay focused on listening and hearing the other person – you might be surprised at how much you agree on.
Keep Body Language Consistent – non-verbal cues and verbal language should match up. Have you ever said “yes” verbally while shaking your head “no”? I have, and this can cause confusion. If your verbal language says one thing and your body says another, your listener will likely feel that you are being dishonest. Ask clarifying questions like “is this what you meant to say?”. Make sure you do not read too much into one gesture or another. People from different cultures often use different signals to mean different things. For example, in Argentina this hand gesture means “I don’t know” – what does the gesture mean to you?
Positive Body Language – if you dislike or disagree with what is being said you might send a rebuttal using your body. Crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, or tapping your fingers on the table – these are all signs that you have tuned out the other person’s communication. You do not have to like what you are hearing but making sure the other person feels that they are being heard will enhance your communication. Instead, provide feedback to the person. Stay open bodily so the person you are listening to feels heard. Express what the speaker’s words mean to you. Instead of shutting the other person down by rolling your eyes, say “Is this what you meant to say?”. Find out the truth of what you are assuming.
The goal of good communication is to assertively speak in a manner where you clearly express what you are trying to communicate. It is not about persuading another person to believe differently or even being hostile toward another person. It is about better understanding another person – their thoughts, their beliefs – and come to an informed collaborative decision. Two half people do not equal a whole person, but two whole people make a great couple. Two whole people who can empathize with each other and can put proper boundaries in place so that everyone can feel good about alternative solutions. Yes, good communication has a lot to do with sharing information, but it is also about sharing the emotion and intention behind the information.
Once again, I remind you that respect filled communication is the GLUE to every healthy and long-term relationship. We are not born with excellent communication skills. We need to practice the skill in order to make it an art. Don’t expect perfection. But may you enjoy your new life! (Irish wedding toast). Once you develop the art of communication your life will never be the same.
If you need help developing your communication skills book a coaching appointment with me where you will learn new tools to co-create an intentional future with improved communication, intimacy, healthy boundaries, and renewed confidence and support to be the "real" you!