Communication is an integral component of people’s lives. However, there are cases when people mean to say something good, but the words just won’t come out right. As a result, other parties end up hearing things that just disappoint them. Misunderstandings, frustration, and conflicts may result from miscommunication among people.
Fortunately, there is still hope for people who experience trouble in communicating with others. Enhancing communication skills will allow them to connect more effectively with other people and build long-lasting relationships that are full of trust and respect.
In communicating effectively, people can start with the following:
Spend time for face-to-face contact
Add some humor
Disagreement is okay
Do not hold your breath
Listen before you speak
Take a break when stressed
Effective communication employs effectively sending the intended message and also listening carefully to understand what the other party is saying. Effective communication also requires use of non-verbal skills, engaged listening, stress management, assertive communication, and recognizing and understanding emotions.
With effective communication, individuals can strengthen their connection with others and improve teamwork, decision-making and problem-solving skills among people.
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION
STRESS AND UNMANAGED EMOTIONS
When stressed out or feeling too much emotions, people tend to misunderstand others or send confusing non-verbal signals. Thus, people should learn to relax before conversing with others.
LACK OF FOCUS
Doing multiple things simultaneously results in ineffective communication. In such case, a person may miss non-verbal signals during a conversation.
INCONSISTENT BODY LANGUAGE
Sometimes, nonverbal signals contradict what people are trying to communicate.
NEGATIVE BODY LANGUAGE
People tend to use body language when showing their disagreement with what others are saying. However, though there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing, people should avoid using negative signals to show their disapproval.
KEY SKILL TO IMPROVING COMMUNICATION
BE AN ENGAGED LISTENER
Listening is very important in effective communication. This skill indicates being able to understand the information being sent and comprehending the speaker’s emotions. In addition, people should realize that listening and hearing are two different things. People can sense something more when they truly listen. Engaged listening allows them to better understand others and build stronger relationships.
To become engaged listeners, people should first start focusing on the speaker. They should take note of the tone of voice and nonverbal cues that will aid them to fully comprehend another person’s message.
Next, it will be better if people listen with their right ear, as the left brain include primary processing centers for speech comprehension and emotions.
TAKE NOTE OF NONVERBAL SIGNALS
Nonverbal signals comprise facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, voice tone, and muscle tension and breathing. Understanding nonverbal communication aids in successfully connection with others and relaying messages effectively no matter what the situation is.
Effective communication can be enhanced using open body language, which includes uncrossing of arms, standing with open stance, sitting on edge of seats, and maintaining eye contact.
Nonverbal communication can be improved by realizing individual differences based on age, culture, age, religion, and emotions and considering communications signals as a group. Meanwhile, delivery of nonverbal communication is improved by using nonverbal cues that match what people say, modifying nonverbal signals based on the context of relayed message, and using body language to convey positive feelings.
MIND YOUR STRESS LEVELS
People should check their emotions while communicating with others. Thus, it is important that they learn how to manage their stress. Overwhelming stress can cause people to misunderstand related messages or send confusing nonverbal signals.
Being calm during conversation prevents people from doing things that they may regret later on. Moreover, this state proves to be important in various situations, such as job interviews, business presentations, or high-pressure meetings.
On the other hand, people can stay calm under pressure through various ways, which include the following: use stalling tactics, taking a break and gathering one’s thoughts, present a point and support it with information to engage listener’s attention, say the words clearly and accompany them with even tone of voice and proper eye contact, and summarize the message before stopping.
Meanwhile, stress during communication can be relieved by the following:
RECOGNIZING STATE OF STRESS
People can realize that they are in state of stress through their bodies. During stressful moments, they are bound to feel certain discomfort and discrepancies in body processes.
People should allow some time for themselves to breathe before proceeding or discontinuing their conversation.
MANAGE STRESS THROUGH THE SENSES
Stress can be managed by taking deep breaths, clenching and relaxing muscles, and thinking about happy thoughts. On the other hand, people can relieve their stress by using their senses to search for things that can soothe them.
ADD SOME HUMOR TO SITUATIONS
Humor is greatly helps in relieving stressful situations and to lighten the mood of people conversing.
Both parties will become less stressed if they find a common ground amidst disagreements in their conversation.
AGREE TO DISAGREE
Disagreements normally arise from conversations, and people should realize that it’s okay. However, to overcome disagreements, they must take a quick break to relax themselves before resuming conversation with another person.
In self-assertion, people should focus on their thoughts, emotions, and needs and still consider their wants and those of others. They should realize that their goal should be to understand the other party and not to win an argument.
Assertiveness can be improved by valuing one’s opinions and choices, recognizing one’s needs and wants, expressing negative thoughts positively, receiving feedback positively, and learning to say “no.”
People can also employ assertive communication techniques, including the following:
In emphatic assertion, people convey their sensitivity to others. This technique also employs recognizing other people’s emotional state and presenting one’s needs and opinions.
In escalating assertion, people become firmer with time and learn to predict consequence when their needs are not met.
Practice assertiveness aids lowering risk situations and also allows for people to develop their confidence.