Communicating well is one of the most common errors of modern life and no doubt historically too. To speak and tell something to another person is critical to good relationships. To listen, hear and understand the message is a necessary part of good communication. Often what is heard was not the intention of the messenger. Thus, we have apples and oranges, instead of apples and apples.
Being able to communicate is probable one of the most important of all life skills We learn to communicate from our parents or primary caregivers and emulate the way they communicate.
Communication, at its simplest, is the act of transferring information from one person to another. It may be vocally (using voice), written (using printed or digital media such as books, magazines, websites or emails), visually (using logos, maps, charts or graphs) or non-verbally (using body language, gestures and the tone and pitch of voice). In practice, it is often a combination of several of these.
Communication is a two-way process, involving both sending and receiving a message. It is imperative that both the sender and receiver understand the content of the words in the message sent. If not confusion and misunderstanding prevail.
Basic verbal communication skills include paraphrasing, this remedy is to paraphrase for clarity. Simply say back to the person what you heard. “So, what I heard you say was_________.” The messenger will say either “Yes, that is what I said.” Or “No, I said_________.” And then will restate and clarify the message until they are both on the same page
It is crucial for the recipient of the message to listen actively and to respond appropriately, either by asking questions for clarity or more information or to offer support to the messenger.
A common error is to respond by taking the thought away and telling a similar personal experience which has the effect on the messenger of not being heard or being discounted.
Another is interrupting the messenger when triggered by something being said. Again discounting and disrupting effective communication. Being interrupted or receiving inappropriate responses has the effect on the messenger to be sabotaged and reluctant to communicate further with this person. In this case feedback to the other person may be appropriate.
Listening is a crucial component to effective communication. To be heard is important to the messenger who may be vulnerable in sharing ideas or personal information. Active listening may be shown by, gestures like eye contact, nodding of the head, smiling, etc.
Stay with the messenger and responding appropriately when they appear to finish. Asking for more information will most often be welcomed as an indication of being heard.
Feedback is one of the important communication skills. It may be risky to let the other person know the effect you experience, especially when you have been interrupted, but it may be a positive experience also.
Feedback always starts with an “I’ statement. “I feel frustrated when I tell you something personal and you take the subject away and interject an experience of yours.”
The important elements are “I feel” and ‘when you”.This way of communicating avoids blame or accusing the other of wrongdoing, thus feeling defensive, but it encourages being receptive to hearing the error which is often an unconscious way of communicating probably from old patterns learned in childhood. When a person is defensive, the ability to hear and be willing to change is gone.
Non-verbal ways to communicate are beyond the scope of this article, however they are important ways to give and receive information.
Conflict resolution can be challenging but necessary when opposing points of view prevail in a relationship. Negotiating for a good time to work on problem solving is
a good idea. if both are ready and willing to set time aside and are willing to work on differences.
Next, set some basic rules. I recommend that each person take an allotted time to talk without interruption and the other person listen actively, even take notes if both agree. I suggest 5 minutes each. This will bring several differences out in the open and the next step is to agree which ones to work on together, using the communication skill discussed above, paraphrasing, “I” statements, and feedback.
Negotiate a resolution that both agree on and put that particular issue to bed. Of course any promises made must be honored.
In any relationship we all bring something new.Good ways of communicating can embellish and lead to a mutually enriching relationship with positive skills to resolve differences and share experiences.
I strongly recommend beginning to teach good communication skills in kindergarten and in every grade thereafter. Such classes should be as an important part of the curriculum as reading, writing and arithmetic. Also, universities must teach student teachers these skills. Not only is poor communication the cause of failed relationships in families, but also in International relationships. Languages are barriers enough, but conveying ideas, treaties, agreements are all critical to good relations between diplomats and nations. Positive and effective communication has been too long overlooked and a critical way that we share who we are, but also get to know and respect others. The world would be a better place and relationships would be better if we had better skills to interact with one another.