Communication is one of the most important human behaviours – good communication practice helps us to make friends, build relationships, assert our needs, and navigate conflict, along with many other functions. Communication is made up of at least two parties – the communicator and the receiver. In today’s world particularly, with the increase in social media, face-to-face communication can be poorly developed. Here are some tips for good communication:
- As a receiver of communication, practice your listening skills. This means giving your undivided attention and waiting for the person to complete their sentence, before considering your answer. Often, people start thinking about their reply, before the person has finished, meaning the latter part of the message is lost.
- Try reflecting back what the person has said; this helps to clarify understanding. If you have misunderstood, this allows the person to correct or re-state something that has been misunderstood. Try reflecting either the content of the message or the feeling behind the message. For example:
- Ask questions of the other person to clarify or to encourage them to give you information; people are usually happy to talk about themselves and/or expand upon their initial message. This shows your interest and curiosity for the other person. Be empathic about the other person; being judgemental often shows in your speech or your body language (remember, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything”.) You might have some generic questions or a “script” for when you meet new people.
- Body language is a major part of face-to-face communication; check your body language is “open”, face the person square on and avoid crossed arms. Eye contact is important (although constant eye contact can be off-putting). Smile!
- Match your communication style to that of the receiver/s – you might talk to your boss more formally that you would your best friend. But do be authentic – everyone has their own communication individualities. Remember to be civil and polite.
- Use “I” statements to explain how you feel or
what you need. This avoids pointing the
finger at others and offending them. For
- “I was annoyed…when you forgot to pick up the milk…and I would like you go to the shops now to get some” instead of “You always forget to get the milk”.
- “I am tired and I need to go to bed” instead of “Leave me alone”.
- Similar rules apply for electronic communication – be authentic, civil, and polite. Match your communication style to the receiver, and in many cases, with email and/or text, briefer is better.