Part of living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle includes being able to nurture relationships with family, loved ones, and members of the community. These human connections are essential to our well-being and fill us with a sense of belonging that is unique unto itself. Nurturing relationships takes skillful communication.
Nevertheless, effective communication can at times feel like a challenge.
There are a number of variables that determine the potential quality of a conversation. Such as the words we choose, our body language, and the attitude we bring forward. By learning a few skills in conscious communication we become better able to have meaningful exchanges, and grow to be leaders in the art of connection.
Below are four communication skills to begin practicing with today.
A healthy communication requires full presence.
Just think back to the times that you’ve tried to start a conversation with someone who is distracted on their phone, looking around, or trying to multitask. It doesn’t feel very good or supportive does it? That’s because part of having a successful conversation involves co-creating a safe space that allows for feelings of reciprocity to thrive. Put simply, there’s a mutual exchange happening and it feels like both people care.
By offering one another our complete and undivided attention, we instantaneously create a safe space for expression to unfold. Conversations that lack presence by one or both people often feels like an uphill battle, and can end up doing more harm than good. So before diving into an important conversation with someone it helps to ensure that all participants are available to offer full presence instead of expecting it to happen on command.
Be A Good Listener
Listening seems like an obvious necessity when it comes to having a conversation with someone. Unfortunately, the habit of partial listening is more common than one would think. For instance, while one person speaks the other is often planning what they are going to say next. This is not a model for genuine listening. Listening requires undivided attention. It permits pauses of silence without interjection. Listening is being patient to wait for the other person to complete their thought.
Good listening skills also include the ability to maintain curiosity throughout the conversation. The most memorable interactions happen with people who are engaged, they ask questions, and they value your word. Aim to be that person.
To communicate clearly is to have integrity in the words we choose to say. Be honest. When we say what we truly mean, we are better able to keep our word and not exhaust ourselves with insincere compliments or flimsy half-truths.
Oftentimes we refrain from being fully honest in our communications for the sake of politeness or fear of letting someone down. Though the intention is kind, compromising honesty ultimately ends up being a disservice to all those involved. These are situations where we say ‘yes’ when we really want to say ‘no’, and when we give an opinion that really isn’t ours to give.
At one point or another we’ve all experienced a moment of hearing the phrase, “don’t put words in my mouth”. This usually happens when we are in the middle of trying to come to an understanding and emotions naturally rise. During these moments we end up projecting our thoughts and feelings onto the other person as if they are their own, by embellishing or re-contextualizing their words. This often stirs up unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding.
A more skillful way to approach this is by repeating the other person’s words verbatim. This is literally the opposite of “putting words in someone else’s mouth”. From here the other person can either confirm or clarify what you understood, which helps ensure that what’s being communicated is accurate. This practice of ‘mirroring’ really helps diffuse any frustrations or hurt feelings from further rising.
We hope that these skillful communication tips bring value to your home and to your community. May your connections with one another feel caring and nurturing, as they are truly foundational for a life well lived.
By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author
We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!
Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!