We’ve all been told a million times that the key to any relationship is communication and by now we’re probably over it. When we say relationships at Integrous Women, we don’t mean romantic, we mean every kind of relationship, whether that be platonic, work friends, between bosses and employees, or family – all of the above. That’s why we think it’s imperative to break down the simplest and most effective ways to get better at life’s most useful and important skill!
Don’t just listen, lean in
Think of the last conversations you had with a friend or a colleague. Were you really listening? Were you paying attention to what they were saying or were you tuned out into your own thoughts? Over time, this lack of attention can wear on our relationships.
The next time someone comes to you after a long day and your tendency might be to tune out, try leaning into the conversation. Be present and ask questions. Not only will you thank yourself for getting out of your own head but you’ll set an example for how you would like someone else to treat you when you want to feel heard.
Pay attention to the present
We live in a world of endless distractions. Has your partner or friend asked you to put your phone down when they’re talking to you recently? Is your work consuming your life? Or better yet, do you find that even at work you’re not having genuine conversations with your colleagues? We all get this way, we become so task-oriented that we forget we live in the present. Try putting your phone down when someone is speaking to you. The number one thing you can do to show respect and attention is to look someone in the eyes when they are speaking to you.
Notice Body language
Most of our communication happens between body language. You can say something but mean something totally different by the way you emote – your facial expressions, or where your hands or arms are. All of these little nuances are what make up a conversation. The next time you speak to your partner or a friend, think of the way you have situated your body. You could be sending mixed messages without even realizing it.
When the person you are speaking to finishes, try and simply paraphrase what they’ve said to you and use their name where possible in more formal situations. This will show that you have understood what the person is saying but moreover, it shows that you care about what they had to say. This also helps to ensure there aren’t any misunderstandings. If you’re not sure about what they’ve said, ask clarifying questions to understand them more deeply.
Lastly, ask them what they need from you in the conversation. Sometimes people just want to vent and they don’t want your advice and sometimes they just want to feel heard by someone. It’s important to let the other person decide even when you may have already formed an opinion. This will make the other person feel more comfortable in the conversation and help build a stronger bond.
The key to effective communication is remembering that the conversation goes both ways, so you should never default to anticipating your next window to speak. Now that you have a few tools under your belt, try exercising these on the go.
How do you practice effective communication?