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5 ways to improve your communication skills

Think about your relationships and other social interactions in general. How often do you get into a fight or tiring dicussion because of a misunderstanding? How often do you feel misunderstood? How often do you prepare your next answer in your head while the other person is speaking? How often do you feel upset because of your interpretation of other people's intentions? How often do you have a bitter taste after a conversation with someone? Do you hash it out or do you push your feelings aside? Do you sometimes explode after pushing too many small issues aside? Do you feel like communication is not your strong suit? Then you have come to the right place!

Communication is one of the most important interpersonal skills you can learn. And, while there is much more to it then just a few aspects, I will provide you with a short overview of 5 skills you can focus on that will make a difference!

"My belief is that communication is the best way to create strong relationships"

– Jada Pinkett Smith

#1 - Be an active listener

Most of us tend to listen only to decide on a good answer. Often, we are thinking about our answer while the other person is speaking. Or we shut down because we feel uncomfortable. Or threatened. Sometimes we are even doing something else or thinking about something else during a conversation. All of those things prevent us from really listening. To listen actively, you need to only focus on the other person and what they are saying and to how they are saying it. You could even paraphrase what the other person told you to make sure that you understood properly and that the other person feels heard. This is also a good strategy to clear up any misunderstandings.

#2 - Pay attention to non-verbal cues (yours and those of the other person)

I already mentionned that you need to focus on how the other person is saying something, meaning you need to observe their non-verbal cues: What is their body language telling you? What is their facial expression telling you? What about their vocal tone? Do the non-verbal cues match what they are saying or do you feel that something is off? Are they maintaining or avoiding eye contact? What does their posture suggest? Are their arms crossed or fists clenched? Do they seem like they are about to walk away?

Now, what about the non-verbal cues that you are sending to the other person? Are you conscious of those and do you see how you could come off as aggressive or defensive for example? Notice how your body language might send the other person the "wrong message". or how it might not match the way you want what you are saying to come across. For example, in order to show the other person that you are acively listening, you might want to nod from time to time and keep your arms uncrossed and you body directed towards that person.

#3 - Don't make assumptions - ask instead

Assumptions are your worst enemy. When you assume what the other person means without asking them, you are also assuming that something was communicated when in reality, it wasn't. You can't read other people's minds. So, the next time you are missing information and feel you are about to make an assumption, or really you just made one, ask the other person! This is how proper communication works.

#4 - Use "I-Statements" when you want to raise an issue

What happens when you are talking to someone and you keep telling them "you did this", "you made me feel like that", "you should just do this", etc? In most cases, they feel attacked and get defensive and the conversation takes a really non-constructive turn. And it makes sense that they get defensive. You probably do too when someone talks about mistakes you made and it sounds like they blame you, even if that was not their intention. A great way to remedy that is to use I-Statements because they reduce the feelings of blame by focussing on your own feelings, experience, actions, and beliefs.

Here are some examples of how you could start such a statement:

- I feel [insert emotion]

- I thought [insert thought]

- I have this belief that [insert belief], which made me assume [insert assumption]

- What I experienced was [insert your experience]

Remember to really talk about yourself and your own feelings and experience only. Saying "I feel that you should have done ..." does not count as an I Statement.

#5 - Learn to express your own needs and ideas

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You need to get to know yourself well enough to know what you need and then to communicate those needs with others. One way to do this is to use this formula: I think ..., I feel ..., I want/need ....

For example: I think the way we are communicating is unhealthy. I feel hurt and tired. I want/need us to really listen to each other to understand each other.

To sum it up: In order to communicate well, you have to really listen to the other person actively, pay attention both to their and to your non-verbal cues, ask instead of making assumptions, talk from your point of view and about your own feelings and thought and actions by using I-Statements, and express your needs and ideas.


If you need more help working on your communication skills and feel like you need professionnal help to do it, don't hesitate to book your free first appointment by clicking on the tab down below or contact me via the contact formular on my homepage.

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