Effective communication allows you to deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving.
Effective communication means:
+ The parties understand each other’s perspectives.
+ The parties feel like they are being acknowledged.
+ The parties feel like their needs are being met.
+ There is no misunderstanding.
No wonder, communication is key in every successful relationship.
Note: Communication is not only about words. Sometimes, what is not being said is even more important!
You have to realize and understand that not everyone will tell you how they feel. But they will show you. Pay attention.
Nonverbal communication is actually more powerful than verbal communication. Notice the person’s body language. Action speaks louder than words. If a person is interested in what you are saying, he/she will usually look at you when you’re talking. He or she will lean in a bit, and the body will be more open (Ex. arms stretched out).
However, if a person does not want to communicate with you, you will see that he/she will have a closed body (Imagine how you usually stand in an elevator filled with strangers. Most people are trying their hardest to avoid any physical contact). The body is usually stiff and very awkward. Usually, their bodies will be turning from you instead of facing you.
Reading others’ body language gets better with practice. But once you have mastered it, it can get very interesting. Once you can sense how someone feels towards you, you have 2 options:
1. Allow him/her to continue feeling this way
2. Change your behaviour to see if he/she will also change
You can actually almost control the situation.
So, how can you communicate more effectively?
+ Show positive body language. It makes the person feel like you want to listen to them.
+ Pay attention. It means not doing something else while you’re talking to someone. Give them your undivided attention. Tone of voice conveys emotion, so if you’re thinking about other things (Ex. Checking text messages), you’re almost certain to miss the nonverbal cues and the emotional content behind the words being spoken.
+ Be clear to avoid misunderstandings. “See you next week.” And “See you next Friday at 6 pm” can make a huge difference.
+ Express how you feel. This can be tough for some. Some people do not feel comfortable expressing themselves verbally. Some people are a lot more comfortable expressing themselves through writing/drawing/dancing/singing/so on. But there are also some people who do not like expressing themselves at all. Remember though, if you do not express yourself, the person you are talking to will have a harder time trying to understand you and your perspective.
Lastly, I would like to remind you that hearing is not the same as listening. When you are really listening, you will be more engaged and truly understand the person better.