Did you know happiness and well-being are closely tied to how you communicate with others?
Relationships are the basis of the human experience. We are social creatures engineered to interact with each other and these interactions serve to support us, create happiness and provide experiences.
When verbal communication is poor, relationships become a source of stress that wears us down and causes disease.
Healthy communication hold relationships together. When our dialogue with each other is open and clear, problems, if they arise, are resolved quickly.
When verbal communication is ambiguous and unclear, problems grow out of proportion and resentment can result.
Here are a few common types of poor communication you may use or experience and some tips for how to avoid them:
There is not much worse than having a one-sided conversation. Realizing the other party is not really listening to you and simply giving an “uh-huh” without paying attention is very frustrating. It feels like you (and your message) lacks value and it’s not a nice way to feel.
Worse still are conversations where the other person isn’t actually listening to you but simply waiting for a moment when they can interject their thoughts. Sometimes they don’t wait and simply interrupt you as you speak.
Take a minute to reflect: are you a good listener when conversing with others? Are you constantly interrupting others in conversation?
Tip: Try to be present when you communicate with others and when they are communicating with you. Use tactics like repeating back what the person has said to you, maintain eye contact, ask about feelings and keep the focus on what they are saying.
Listen in the same way you would like to be heard.
Passive communicators avoid confrontation at all costs and are typically incapable of dealing directly with what is making them unhappy. An individual may appear easy going and agreeable with what you are saying as you are saying it, but beneath the surface, they may be angry or resentful.
This unhappiness may then lead to passive-aggressive behavior which then manifests as subtle tactics meant to undermine the person they resent like agreeing to do something and then conveniently “forgetting”. Often, they create unclear statements that can easily be denied.
Take a minute to reflect: Do you smile and say “it’s fine” when it’s really not to avoid upsetting others? Do you say “yes” when you mean “no”?
Tip: don’t be afraid to say no and be clear in your statements. Use “I” statements to indicate your feelings like “I don’t like it when you play your music really loud”. It may create conflict in the here and now but if you resolve issues as they arise, you will avoid long-term conflict and resentment.
Be clear in your communication and honor your truth while still being kind to others.
This style of communication is about winning based on your own interests and with no regard for the rights, needs or feelings of others. This hostile communication typically manifests in the form of criticism and name-calling. It is about openly de-valuing another person creating feelings of defensiveness.
It never feels good to be attacked. This communication form typically arises because someone needs to feel powerful and “win” the situation versus trying to meet in the middle or reach a place of understanding.
Take a minute to reflect: do you find yourself often criticizing or blaming others? Do you speak in a loud, demanding voice? Do you refuse to listen to others or interrupt them frequently?
Tip: If you find yourself becoming aggressive, stop and think: who am I talking to and what might their situation be?
If you are on the receiving end of aggressive communication and understanding is not something that can be attained, first, distance yourself and if this is a situation that will reoccur, let boundaries for yourself and use assertive communication when needed.
Good communication is the gold standard for strong relationships. Communicating well means:
- Stating your opinions and feelings clearly
- Advocating for yourself while respecting the rights of others
- Being confident in your speech
- Creating healthy boundaries around your emotional, spiritual and physical needs
- Connecting to others
- Being in control of your life
- Addressing problems as they arise
- Creating a respectful environment
Use these tips to improve the way you communicate with others and enhance both your relationships and your health at the same time.