Communication is inescapable; people must communicate everyday at work, home, buying groceries or taking the kids to soccer practice. Being effective and efficient in communicating, in all relationships, will help people be happier and lead more productive lives. Dr. Jain says, “Relationships help you get what you want. They grow, change and evolve over time but this helps to strengthen ties with others to achieve the best outcome for all. Ultimately, what you put into forming and maintaining relationships is what you’ll get out of them.” Communicating well is just one way to improve relationships.
To celebrate Effective Communication Month, Dr. Sanjay Jain offers seven tips from his bestselling book, Optimal Living 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life, to help people take their communication skills to the next level:
- Smile while speaking. It sounds so simple, but many people fail to maintain a smile–and positive attitude–while speaking. Smiling is especially important in first-meeting situations: a first date, a job interview or meeting new colleagues for the first time. Smiling people appear friendlier and put others at ease and win them over.
- Practice listening. There’s no need to attend classes to improve this skill; individuals can become better listeners by paying attention to their conversations. Fidgeting, looking away or interrupting speaker the speaker indicates boredom. Respect the other person by giving them full attention and using the appropriate emotions to show engagement.
- Respect personal space. The amount of personal space an individual needs to feel comfortable varies from person to person. People from different cultural backgrounds have different boundaries when it comes to how comfortable they are being in close proximity with another individual. Pay close attention to non-verbal signals and inch away from them if the seem to want more distance.
- Give time for a response. This tip is especially important during times of conflict or after giving some criticism. Allow the other person time to receive the information, reflect on and process what was said and then give a response. Words said in anger and without time to think them through beforehand just fuel the fire.
- Refrain from offering advice. It’s always best to stay away from giving advice unless it’s specifically requested. A quick interjection may be taken as a put-down or judgment. When it’s unclear as to whether or not advice is being solicited, phrase it so that it’s not direct at the speaker or won’t be taken in the wrong way.
- Stay calm. Discussing problems or conflicts, especially with loved ones, can add emotions to the mix. Try to put those aside and not let anxiety take over the sitatuon. Breathe deeply, take time in responding and even ask to take a break and resume the conversation later, if necessary.
- Be specific. Everyone has that friend who posts vague messages on social media which prompt everyone to respond because they don’t know what’s going on. Don’t be that person; in written or verbal communication. Aim to use clear words so that the other person understands the message; conversely, ask questions of them to clarify if they’re words aren’t being understood.
By starting to integrate these tips into conversation, people will reap the benefits of being better communicators and enjoy more fulfilling relationships.