By communication we explicitly mean all kinds of actions aimed at getting a message across to other people, who then understand the meaning of our words and or deeds (ie see, hear and understand). Defined so straightforwardly, it might seem absurd to write an entire article about it, were it not for the fact that communication is much more difficult in practice than we usually think.
In fact, most interpersonal conflicts have their origin in poor communication. Therefore, if you crave stable, thriving and fulfilling relationships, it is essential to become proficient in developing your capacity for understanding.
People often react quite instinctively and impulsively to situations in their daily lives. The automatic pilot is at the wheel and that regularly causes social friction and mutual incomprehension. How many times do we regret our ranting and ranting to loved ones!? How many times could we have avoided confrontations if we could express ourselves more tactfully!?
Why are we so bad at unifying, peaceful communication?
According to the experts, there are two theories in particular that explain our poor communication skills: one focuses on a lack of information , the other is all about motivation .
According to the former model, based on scarcity , things go wrong because we are ignorant. That is, we have no idea what to do, or how, to ensure healthy relationships. We are taught to read, write, and solve problems, but are hardly taught the art of constructive dialogue (nonviolent speaking and listening), or how to actually de-escalate an argument and altercation.
The motivation model, on the other hand, claims that unsatisfactory interactions arise from an insufficient willingness to really put yourself in the shoes of the other person.
But if you think about this matter a little longer, you could add another theory: the far – or demanding model. If you quarrel with someone and become excessively angry, it is because you (indirectly) expect and desire them to prove you right, or at least do what you want. Even if he or she is not interested in it. By yelling, threatening and accusing, by blaming and showing hostility, you try to influence, change, control him or her.
The first and most crucial step is therefore healthy realism: people will not just conform to your beck and call. Therefore, do not require anyone to behave as you wish or to say what you wish.
Change starts with you
So who should ultimately change? In short: not the other, but yourself. Every change in your life depends on your own will and decisiveness. After all, you are the only person you really have control over.
Stop trying to make the other person correspond to your ideal image. That is doomed to fail. All you can do is move your own chess pieces and thus restructure the entire playing field. In other words: if you do something different yourself , the other person will also be able to react differently. There’s no point in getting angry; that just anchors someone’s defense mechanisms.
It is important to look within and become aware of exactly how you communicate. Which habits are helpful in that regard, and which ones reinforce friction and discord? If you genuinely want to change, keep a special journal where you write down how you acted in different social situations and analyze which behaviors were beneficial, which were not, and why.
The key to good communication
Effective communication can be learned, even cultivated – it is not magic or mystery. But in that case you really have to make an effort to change, because something like this certainly doesn’t happen with a snap of the finger. Below we introduce some effective communication techniques that will help you improve your rapport with other people, fight less and feel more comfortable around other people’s company.
- Disarm: to be able to recognize and acknowledge truth or truthfulness in what the other is saying. First of all, be aware that there is nothing like the absolute truth and that no one ever has a monopoly on the whole truth. Try to put your ego aside and acknowledge the perspective and interpretation of the other person. In this way you make it possible that the other person really listens to you afterwards. He or she will feel better understood, more relaxed and more willing to really hear your story.
- Showing empathy: the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, imagine how they feel, inside, without necessarily sharing their views. To make this clear to the other person, it is important to repeat their words, to accept and respect their feelings as such, and to pay undivided attention to what they are saying.
- Questions: If you can’t read minds and are not clairvoyant, you may miss certain things. That goes for everybody. However, sometimes we are too lazy, afraid, or ashamed to ask for repetition or clarification. It is therefore extremely important to actively ask questions, so that misunderstandings are avoided and you show a genuine interest in how the other person thinks and how he or she feels. Formulate your questions tactfully and empathize.
- ”I feel that…”: never start a sentence with you (are or are doing this or that), with an accusation, for example: ‘You make me nervous’, or ‘You are an idiot’. The only person responsible for your emotional state is you and no one else. Above all, you feel lousy for trying to put the other person in your own narrow box, which is essentially absurd. Instead, just share your own emotion with the other person and tell them openly and honestly how you feel.
- Affection: Always end the conflict with something positive and pleasant so that the other person sees that you appreciate him or her, even if you are upset at the time. As a result, the person will automatically feel more at ease and less defensive.