By Dariyone Thompson
What is something you do daily that could use improvement? While there may be many answers to this question, we can all agree that one of those things is communication. Learning how to effectively communicate can make your life and the lives of others much easier. Before we can do that, we must know what it means to communicate effectively. According to HelpGuide.org, “effective communication is about more than just exchanging information. It is about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. As well as being able to clearly convey a message, you need to also listen in a way that gains the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood.” Communicating effectively can eliminate hardships and even, according to HelpGuide.org, “deepen your overall social and emotional health.”
To become an effective communicator, we must first “become an engaged listener.” Listening is a crucial part of communication. Being an engaged listener means “not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to convey.” Being an engaged listener, can help you calm an irritated person. It can also “lower stress and supports physical and emotional well-being.” HelpGuide.org says focusing fully on the speaker is a great way to become an engaged listener. It is important that you eliminate as many distractions as possible, this includes your phone. Doing this will allow you to pick up “the subtle nuances and nonverbal cues in a conversation.” Another tip is to show interest in what the speaker is saying whether it be verbally or nonverbally. We can do this by shaking our head or saying “yes.” This lets the speaker know you are engaging in the conversation.
We can also communicate effectively by paying attention to nonverbal signals. When it comes to communication, we do a lot more nonverbal than verbal. Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, tone of voice, and posture just to name a few. HelpGuide.org says, “developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and work.” So, how can we improve the way we read and deliver nonverbal communication? We can improve the way we read nonverbal communication by being aware of individual differences. We need to consider that all people aren’t the same and will not communicate the same. Remind yourself of who you’re speaking to and take into consideration their age, culture, religion, ect. To improve the way we deliver nonverbal communication, we must use nonverbal signals that match with our words. This will eliminate confusion and dishonesty from the other person.
Another way we can communicate effectively is by keeping our stress in check. When in a disagreement with someone, it is important that we remain calm and collected. This will prevent us from saying or doing something we will regret in the future. Being in a calm, relaxed state can also help calm others. When in stressful disagreements with others, we must first recognize that we are stressed. Most of the time your body will tell you when you’re stressed while communicating. Your muscles will tense up and you’ll start to take shallow breaths. When this happens, take a moment to calm down and take a few deep breaths. When you are ready to do so, you can proceed with the conversation. Remember to be willing to compromise. Finding a “happy middle ground” can lower stress for the both of you. If you can’t find the happy middle ground, it’s always okay to agree to disagree. This gives both parties a break away from the discussion.
The last way we can communicate effectively is by asserting yourself. HelpGuide.org says, “effective communication is always about understanding the other person.” Asserting yourself means “expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others.” Valuing yourself and knowing your needs and wants are two ways we can improve assertiveness. Once we know this, we can practice assertiveness by expressing how we feel to others. It is also okay to say no when we know our limits. As you can see effective communication is needed, no matter what relationship you find yourself in. Effective communication can make your and others’ lives much easier.
Source: Robinson, Segal, Smith. October 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/effective-communication.htm#:~:text=To%20communicate%20effectively%2C%20you%20need,that%20you're%20being%20dishonest.