In order to communicate effectively with others, we need to remember communication is intentional and occurs when both parties understand each other. To improve your communication skills, you must be willing to put in the effort and time.
Knowing how to communicate effectively is very vital in all kinds of relationships.
As a teacher and an individual seeking to grow consistently, it took a lot of learning and practice for me to understand how to properly communicate with others. Over time, I’m beginning to understand why poor communication has led to bad marriages, loss of friendships and many others.
Here are ways you can improve your communication skills until it becomes a good habit.
To communicate effectively with others, practice mindful listening
Listening plays a huge role in communication, especially in a world that’s constantly seeking to distract us or pull our attention away.
It’s not hard to get lost in a sea of voices. So we need to make conscious effort to listen to the people around us.
Ask yourself: Are you listening to hear or listening to respond?
There’s a difference between the two and the latter results in poor communication.
The Holy-Spirit revealed this to me sometime ago that I used to listen to respond and not to understand.
Although I still falter sometimes, I am learning that listening is a vital role in communication.
My career path as a teacher taught me the importance of listening, especially in a day and age where everybody has an opinion and would rather you listen to them than they listen to you.
When our friends talk, do we listen to understand them?
When our spouses or children talk, do we listen? Like really listen?
Some tips to consider
- Do you settle for generic responses and move on to the next thing or you actually take time to understand the layers hidden beneath the words spoken by your friend, spouse or any other person you regularly communicate with?
- If your friend tells you they don’t like certain things, do you just brush them away or you sit down and try to analyze the situation?
- Are you reading their body language?
- Do you empathize with them?
- Are you able to understand where they’re coming from and relate with them on that level?
- When your friend shares something personal with you, are you eager to just say, ‘me too’ hereby invalidating their emotions and feelings? Sometimes all they just need is someone who can sit with them and go over bits of the conversation one at a time.
- When your friend expresses some concerns about you, are you actually listening or your armour is raised and you’re eager to defend yourself?
Listening helps us discern a negative criticism and a helpful one.
I recall talking to a friend and I just knew she wasn’t doing fine. Her tone and her responses gave me a clue. I was learning to listen to her even when we were miles apart.
Here’s a tip for virtual mindful listening: Sometimes after a conversation online (like Whatsapp) I return to previous messages just in case I might have missed one or two things my friend was trying to say.
This helps a lot.
Be slow to speak
It’s natural to share your thoughts immediately something happens but it’s okay to process your thoughts through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be in a hurry to say what’s on your mind.
You may be wrong, you may be right, but if you’re slow to speak, you can never go wrong.
To communicate effectively with others, take time to weigh your words before expressing yourself.
Being slow to speak shows how much you’re able to apply self-control to your daily life.
I know sometimes you just want to air your concerns and share everything that may be going on in your life.
Perhaps you can’t wait to share the amazing things God is doing in you but it’s perfectly fine to wait on it and soak it in.
I recall situations where I rushed to speak and faltered spiritually.
Waiting helps us review the situation and check with the Holy-Spirit first.
You’re able to gather your thoughts and give a good and edifying response.
This is one of the signs that you’re growing spiritually.
Clarify their intentions
There are times it’s easy to judge a conversation based on what we have in our hearts.
Unconsciously we tend to project ourselves unto people and this is a very flawed way of thinking.
Other people’s responses could be marred by our perceptions of them.
We need to stop assuming what people are thinking no matter your previous experience with them.
I recall a situation where an old acquaintance insinuated something else in a question I asked. She probably had a former perception of me and judged my words by my past.
I tried to clarify my intentions but I still got lost in translation. At the end it was a futile attempt at effective communication for the both of us.
Oh well. The relationship definitely didn’t end on a good note.
Do you feel someone may trying to get at you or may be insinuating something?
What if they’re just trying to help?
Clarify their intentions and be polite about it. Extract some words and repeat the questions if possible.
It’s okay to ask questions if the conversation is unclear.
You could say things like:
“I’m a little confused. Can you repeat what you just said?”
‘Oh, I’m sorry. Is this what you meant?”
“I don’t understand your comment. Can you clarify or explain it to me in a better way?”
“Is this what you’re trying to say? (Then go ahead to repeat the question in your own words.)
There’s nothing wrong when asking people to repeat their questions or comments about certain things.
When done politely, the end result is always good. It’s one of the signs of maturity and maturity enables us to give excuses for people.
Not everyone is out to get you or oppose you. Some sincerely don’t understand your opinions and need clarification so you need to be open minded and give everyone the benefit of doubt.
With time, you’ll understand those who just want to pick a fight and those willing to have a conversation.
Communicating effectively can be achieved, but we must be willing to play our part to reap the fruit of our hard work.
Bloom with Love. Xx!