Communication is Key
Strong communication skills can help every kind of relationship thrive. The way we speak to other people, and take in information from those closest to us, can foster trust and respect, or nudge things in the opposite direction by causing uncertainty and conflict.
All of us can stand to work on our communication with others—nobody’s perfect, after all. You can make your relationships better and more resilient by taking stock of your own communication-related shortcomings and course correcting as needed. The following five mistakes are super common and can be easily overcome with practice.
- Holding Feelings in Too Long
Expressing feelings can be hard—really hard for some people. Saying what’s really on your mind puts you in a vulnerable position. There’s the possibility of being misunderstood, being rejected, or being challenged. It can be scary to say what you mean and mean what you say. But, a lot of the time, when we hold things in too long, our feelings have a way of coming out when we least expect it, and often in ways that are less than tactful or clearly understandable. Work on expressing yourself clearly in the moment so you and those around you can experience the intimacy and trust that comes from voicing your truth.
- Not Being Direct
Another important part of solid communication is being direct with what you want to say. Using passive voice or dancing around a given issue doesn’t give the other person involved the privilege of truly understanding you. By beating around the bush, you may cause confusion and you probably won’t express what you really want to say clearly. This, of course, is detrimental to both parties involved because it doesn’t allow for authenticity.
- Making Assumptions
Our brains have a funny way of making up crazy stories about what other people are thinking, feeling, or getting ready to say. Try not to get too much in your head about what you think others believe. When you hear that voice inside analyzing what your boss really meant by her comment after your presentation, or why your best friend didn’t respond to your text, relax, breathe, and remind yourself that you can only know and control your own thoughts and emotions. When you feel the urge to assume, get curious and be direct with the other person. Ask questions, as needed, or, remember that most of what people say and do has more to do with themselves than with others around them.
- Pointing Fingers
We have a bad habit of lashing out at people sometimes, especially when we’re in conflict with someone or feeling hurt. We focus on what the other person did to make us experience these unsavory emotions, rile ourselves up, then explode. It’s important, however, to really own your feelings, instead of blaming someone else for them. This goes beyond swapping your “you” statements for “I” statements. When you’re upset, try to focus solely on how you’re feeling, don’t go down the road of trying to explain what the other person did wrong to cause that feeling. When you play the blame game, no one wins.
- Focusing Too Much on What You Want to Say
Not listening and interrupting go hand-in-hand when it comes to poor communication. Instead of trying to get the next word in or thinking of something clever to say, slow your brain down and focus in on what the other person is saying. Really be in the moment with this person and you’ll experience true connection. You’ll actually hear them and be able to respond in a way that’s genuine and thoughtful. In turn, the person will feel heard and validated, encouraging them to do the same to you. And this more authentic back-and-forth will lead to more meaningful conversations, ultimately strengthening your bond.
Putting it All Together
It’s not always easy to be open about our feelings, especially when they reveal insecurities about ourselves or our relationships, but when you take the time to cultivate open and honest communication with your loved ones and those you are closest to, you will find that your connection will only grow stronger, leading to a much more fulfilling relationship for everyone involved.
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