Communication is about more than talking. A strong communicator is adept at taking into consideration the feelings and thoughts of the other person -- while still making sure that his own point of view is heard. Conversations with those closest to you can be the most difficult, because it is easiest to let communication skills lapse when talking to those whom you know the best. If you have constant misunderstandings or arguments when talking to parents, siblings, friends or acquaintances, you may be lacking the traits of a good communicator.
Those who communicate well know how to listen and really "hear" what the other person is saying. If you find yourself in the same old argument with your best friend over and over -- stop and think about whether you are doing more talking than listening. If you really want to make sure that you are fully present to hear what she is saying, try using "reflection," a process of paraphrasing what the other person has said, suggests psychologist John Grohol. When your best friend tells you that her feelings are hurt when you make plans and don't include her, reflect back by saying, "I hear that you become upset when I leave you out of plans that I make with our other friends." Listening and reflecting back ensures that you truly understand what the other person is thinking and feeling and take time before responding.
Don't be honest to a fault -- there is no point telling your brother his haircut looks awful. However, you do need to be open and sincere when talking with others rather than hiding your feelings and pretending things are okay when they are not, asserts Grohol. Covering up your true feelings will only hurt you and the other person -- through built-up resentment and misunderstandings. For example, if your cousin routinely makes you feel bad with snide comments about your wardrobe, say something like, "It makes me feel bad when you poke fun at what I wear. Please don't do it anymore." Be assertive and let the other person know when bounds have been overstepped -- both of you will feel better for having done so.
Watch Nonverbal Behavior
Communication is more than speech -- nonverbal behavior plays a large role in what we understand from another person. A good communicator will look for signs that what a person is saying doesn't match what he really feels. For example, if your date says, "Sure, I would like to see you again" but isn't smiling, making eye contact or leaning in -- his true feelings might not match his words. Good communicators are also in tune with their own nonverbal behavior -- choosing friendly and open body language when meeting new people.
Recognizing your own emotions and those of the people around you is another key aspect of being a good communicator. You need to know how you feel in order to be able to communicate that feeling, according to Helpguide.org. Having control of your emotions is also important when discussing important topics -- feelings like anger and stress can interfere with your ability to communicate well. Learn both how to get in touch with your emotions, by paying attention to what you are feeling in the moment, as well as how to manage feeling overwhelmed, by taking time out, agreeing to a compromise or using relaxation strategies such as deep breaths or picturing a soothing location.
Being diplomatic involves choosing your words wisely so as not to unnecessarily upset the other person. For example, if your boyfriend is late picking you up for a date, it wouldn't be helpful to say, "You are never on time! Why are you always late?" "You" statements put the other person on the defensive, and universal words such as "always" and "never" are easily disputed and discourage change, says Preston Ni, professor of communication studies. Instead, choose to focus on the issue and be soft on the person by saying, "You are reliable in so many ways and I really need to be able to depend on you to be on time."
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