School is starting for many people, social functions are popular this time of year and chances are, no matter what you do throughout your day, you’re going to be communicating with a good number of people. Easy, right? Maybe not—in fact, communication is often misunderstood or not heard at all. It is likely one of the most common causes of mistakes, problems and hurt feelings (or if misunderstood in the other direction, excited and hopeful feelings that might not have been the original meaning of the message!)
There are some very basic and practical ways on how to be a better communicator though, and they apply to every communication situation. Try out some of these recommendations from articles by leading experts in the communication field such as Business Insider, Psych Central and Mental Floss and get your school year, job and all other relationships to a great place through communication.
- Listen thoroughly before you respond. Don’t form a response while the other person is speaking.
- Use body language that shows you are listening such as eye contact, leaning forward a bit and having an “open” stance.
- Be brief. It allows other people to make sure they understood you and have a chance to engage in the conversation.
- Ask for clarification when the other person is done speaking. You can say, “So what I heard you say was…..(repeat back a little of what they said)” or, “Could you please expand or simplify what you just said so I can make sure I understand?”
- Avoid using “always” and “never”. Those are two words that are rarely ever completely true and can get the communication stuck.
- Try to answer with more logic than emotion. If you need to take a moment before responding so you can do this, by all means, do it!
- Don’t be afraid of a little bit of silence. Sometimes people need to pull their thoughts together when they’re trying to communicate effectively.
- Use direct and concise language. Try as hard as possible not to insert “uh” and “um”.
- Relax! We’re all just human. Really try to get into what the other person is saying and you might have another way of thinking about how you respond.