EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

INTRODUCTION

  • Communication is about more than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. Effective communication is also a two-way street. It’s not only how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended, it’s also how you listen to gain the full meaning of what’s being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood.
  • More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, engaged listening, managing stress in the moment, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.
  • Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.
  • While effective communication is a learned skill, it is more effective when it’s spontaneous rather than formulaic. A speech that is read, for example, rarely has the same impact as a speech that’s delivered (or appears to be delivered) spontaneously. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop these skills and become an effective communicator. The more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and spontaneous your communication skills will become.
  • It sounds so simple: say what you mean. But all too often, what we try to communicate gets lost in translation despite our best intentions. We say one thing, the other person hears something else, and misunderstandings, frustration, and conflicts ensue.
  • Fortunately, you can learn how to communicate more clearly and effectively. Whether you’re trying to improve communication with your spouse, kids, boss, or co-workers, you can improve the communication skills that enable you to effectively connect with others, build trust and respect, and feel heard and understood.
  • Communicating to reduce stress is an important part of business, home and family life. Developing effective communication skills can help us avoid stressful misunderstandings, false assumptions and costly mistakes. Effective communication can also reduce unnecessary resentments and tension in our relationships.

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION REQUIRES DEDICATION:

  • Make a commitment of time. Communication requires time, even in today’s hurried world.
  • Learn to listen. It takes patience to listen to another person instead of yourself, especially if the other person talks more slowly than you do, and has longer pauses between sentences and paragraphs than you do. Avoid the temptation to just jump in, and wait until the person is really finished speaking.
  • Be open minded – we might have to change some of our cherished opinions when we listen to the other person’s perspective.
  • Practice humility – we might discover we were mistaken

COMMUNICATING TO REDUCE STRESS IS WORTH THE EFFORT

Taking the time to communicate effectively builds:

  • Trust,
  • Better understanding,
  • Cooperation,
  • Harmony,
  • More effective teamwork and problem solving

LISTENING IS AN ESSENTIAL COMMUNICATION SKILL

A large part of communicating to reduce stress is listening.

Listening means being receptive.

  • Do nothing else while the other person is talking – just listen.
  • Be open to exploring new ideas and perspectives.
  • Give the other person your visual attention so that they can feel that you are listening. Make eye contact, while the other person is talking. This signals the other person that we acknowledge and respect them, even if we don’t agree with their ideas.
  • Try to maintain a body language which is at least neutral and accepting. Silently fuming and glaring at the other person who is speaking does not encourage communication, but an occasional nod, or smile of encouragement does.

Good Listeners Avoid Prejudging:

  • Avoid mentally rehearsing what you are going to say next after the other person is finished speaking. When we do that, we’re not really paying attention to the other person, or hearing what they’re saying.
  • Resist the temptation to interrupt the other person, or complete their sentences for them. If we wait to let the other person finish their sentence, we may often be pleasantly surprised.
  • Avoid assuming you already know what the speaker is going to say.

Listening Promotes Genuine Communication

When people feel listened to, they are more likely to:

  • Discuss their honest feelings
  • Bring problems to light
  • Offer worthwhile suggestions
  • Participate and be creative
  • Feel acknowledged
  • Be cooperative

Additional Tips for Communicating to Reduce Stress:

  1. Be prepared to listen as well as speak.
  2. Occasionally restate what the other person’s idea is, in your own words to make sure you really understand what they are trying to say.
  3. Understand it may take more than one conversation to resolve your differences.
  4. Set aside a time when there will be fewer distractions.
  5. Turn off computer monitors, TVs, phones, pagers and other distractions.
  6. Reschedule if one or both of the people are over tired, or hungry.
  7. Remember to say some honest words of appreciation. Acknowledge the other person’s strengths and skills. Gratitude works wonders.
  8. Use language your audience or listener understands,
  9. Use specific examples to illustrate your key points, when possible
  10. Make an honest effort to understand the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
  11. Request clarification on points you don’t fully understand
  12. Be honest but respectful of the other person’s feelings. Being honest is not an invitation to be verbally harsh. Find ways to speak the truth with kindness and respect.
  13. Find a professional counsellor, clergy or mediator you trust to help, if needed.

Communicating to reduce stress promotes better understanding, cooperation, and problem solving with the people you live with and work with. It usually results in less tension and more health, happiness and success for everyone.

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