Author: August Clarke
Developing good communication skills is really important, especially for maintaining healthy relationship dynamics. As someone who is pretty shy naturally, I have experienced firsthand how destructive it can be to relationships of any nature (romantic, platonic, familial, etc) when there is either a lack of communication or just a lack of truly effective communication.
It can be tough to be upfront about how you feel and what your needs are, but I personally believe that it is absolutely necessary in order to maintain healthy relationships.
The following are few of my own tips for developing better communication skills.
Tip #1: Listen to be heard
A conversation goes two ways, and it is essential that both people are tuned into what the other is saying. If someone is speaking to you, try to be genuinely engaged in what they are saying. That way, if you know how they feel and their concerns, you can better construct your own response in a way that will be sensitive to them while also communicating your own needs. People tend to be a lot more receptive to other viewpoints when they feel that their own side to things is being heard.
Tip #2: Be conscious of body language
People reveal a lot about what they are saying with their body language. If you want to be a really good communicator, try to pay attention to what people are doing with their hands, their eyes, and their legs when they are talking to you (as a couple of examples). Everyone’s ways of expressing themselves are different, but people will often reveal when they feel uncomfortable or angry in their body movements, and if you learn to pick up on them, it can help you figure out how to respond to people.
It’s also useful to be conscious of your own body language. When I am having an important discussion with someone, I like to try to maintain eye contact as much as possible, as it often communicates sincerity.
Tip #3: Use “I”, not “you”
Focus more on your own emotions rather than making accusations at another person. Say how you feel in order to express empathy. People respond defensively when they feel that they are being accused of something. On the other side of things, if you say “I feel _____”, they will be more likely to sympathize with your emotions and respond sensitively to them.
It is important to be assertive with your needs, not confrontational. There’s no point in keeping secrets or beating around the bush, as that can do its own damage in the long run. In my experience, I’ve had a lot more success in having my needs met when I expressed them openly in a non-confrontational way.
Hopefully these communication tips will be of use to you, especially if you feel that communication is one of your weaker points. Just know that everyone expresses themselves differently and what may be an effective strategy for communicating with one person may not be the best method for another person. These are just some starting points.