To be able to communicate effectively is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, important skills a person can have. All of life is relationships, and to be able to communicate with others in an effective manner is the oil that keeps the gears of our inner workings with others running efficiently and smoothly. Point blank, without communication we are not only unable to learn from others, but we are unable to help other people understand our point of view, which makes for an extremely frustrating and perhaps lonely existence.
The way we communicate with others will determine whether or not our relationships, friendships, family dynamics, or work relationships go well, and move forward or whether or not we have constant problems in our lives. Effective communication leads to healthy relationships, and the healthier our relationships are, the happier and more liberated we will feel. In order to be an effective communicator there are certain things we must remember and tools that will help us along the way. Below are five tools to keep in our arsenal at all times that will aid us in being the most effective communicator that we can possibly be:
“At a certain point in your evolution, it doesn’t actually matter what people say to you. It only matters what you say to yourself when things are said. In time, you will come to see how being heartbroken by words, or grateful for the gifts that others provide, is simply a matter of interpretation. No matter how words are received, when each interaction inspires you to love your own heart in response to any encounter, the highest purpose of communication has been discovered. Conscious communication is not just a way of sharing your truth with others, but learning how to respond to yourself with the kindness, patience, acceptance, and care that certain characters in your play are destined to withhold.” ~ Matt Kahn
1) Stop talking, listen!
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is listening to what another has to say.” ~ Unknown
The above quote truly sums it up. When we listen to others without the intent of just waiting our turn to respond we offer the person we are talking with one of the most valuable forms of respect. It’s truly amazing how many of us do not feel seen or heard in this world, and when we become the one who gives our full attention to those that have something to say we shift the energy of a conversation from resistance to acceptance.
Sometimes people just want to be listened to and empathized with, without being told what to do or how to do it. An effective communicator knows when to listen and when it’s time to give advice or explain. So many arguments work themselves out by simply taking the time to allow each person to say how they feel and why they feel that way.
2) Be honest with how you feel without blaming another
The only thing we truly own is our own feelings. When we stay true to this fact, we allow ourselves to feel freely and talk about our feelings without blaming them on somebody else. It’s important to remember that our perception of a situation may not be the absolute truth. We can say how we feel about something without pointing the finger at another person.
As long as we stick to our truth we will find that there most likely is a reasonable explanation behind the other person’s behavior and 9 times out of 10 their behavior had nothing to do with us personally. If we understand that every person is doing the best they can from the level of consciousness they reside in, it takes blame and judgment off the table.
It doesn’t mean we should put up with being mistreated and abused (if that’s how we constantly are made to feel by a particular person), but it does allow us to have empathy and forgiveness for those who have said things that hurt us.
3) Don’t make assumptions
“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
So often, we think we know why someone did what they did, and because of this we feel justified in pointing the finger at others. However, if we don’t ask questions and get the real story behind people’s actions we run the risk of concocting stories in our mind’s about someone that may or may not be true.
If we can recall how many times in our own lives someone has misunderstood us or misconstrued the motivations behind our actions we can get a clearer picture of how often we probably do this to others. At the end of the day, each one of us has our own unique perspective on the world and none of us can always know what is going through someone else’s mind when they act the way they do. Simply put, if we are unsure about something, instead of assuming, ask. By hearing another person’s answer to our questions we will undoubtedly learn something new and gain a clearer perspective on their behavior.
4) Be present, and breathe
There are definitely going to be times in life where our anger gets the best of us. We go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds and we find ourselves blowing up at another. However, if we take the time to bring ourselves back to our breath in these moments we will save ourselves the chaos and drama of a shouting match. In times of extreme frustration, we can even excuse ourselves to take a moment to take some deep breaths before we continue the argument.
This one choice alone will save us from letting our anger take over and prevent rage from ensuing. An effective communicator knows when it is time to walk away from a conversation. Often, taking some time off by each party helps to regroup. After each party has calmed down (and give yourself hours or even days if you need it) you can revisit the initial conversation in a more effective manner. Responding is always more effective than reacting.
5) Be willing to apologize
This is the single most important thing someone can do when we are in an argument with others. Most of the time all people want is an apology. Let’s face it, no one is perfect.
We all make mistakes and we all sometimes say things we shouldn’t. If we are humble enough to apologize to others we are able to solve 90% of the problem. Humility is in knowing that we aren’t always perfect, and people will be more willing to try and understand our point of view in the future if they know that we know that as well.
By simply adopting these five tools in our relationships with others, we will find that not only are we happier, but people will respect us. At the end of the day, it all comes back to the golden rule which is treating others the way we would like to be treated. And by using effective communication during any discrepancy, we will ensure more harmonious relationships.