The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.
-Peter Drucker, American Businessman
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
-Dale Carnegie, American Writer and Lecturer
Most people have heard of the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book was published in 1937 and is still widely read and referenced—which just goes to show that people have been looking for ways to improve their personal communication skills for a long time. But before you dive into a self-help book or consult with a professional (both of which are completely legitimate ideas), here are some tips to help you before that book finds its way to your nightstand.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation. People love genuine compliments. If your spouse has been doing your share of the dishes while you’ve been bogged down by work, show them some appreciation. This can be as simple as a thank you that recognizes their effort, flowers, or their favorite dinner or snack.
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or blame. Humans rarely respond well to this. It automatically puts them on the defensive and makes having a legitimate conversation difficult.
- Try to understand the other person’s point of view. You may not agree with it, but we need to seek to understand, not condemn or say “you’re wrong.”
- Don’t interrupt. This may seem obvious, but no one likes to be interrupted. If you absolutely must interrupt, do it gently by asking before you do so.
- Watch your body language. Your words can be kind and optimistic, but if your body language says you’re upset or mad or in a rush, it can put a damper on the entire conversation, as well as make the other person uncomfortable.
- Listen well. And we mean listen, don’t just hear. Too often people listen to hear, but not to understand. People will listen to a whole conversation and then come away remembering very little of what the other person said, but be able to tell you everything they themselves said. Listen to understand, not to respond.
- Don’t mess around on your phone or computer during a conversation. Sometimes this can’t be helped, but it’s generally not a good idea, and it can often make the other person feel like they’re not being heard. Make eye contact and let people know they have your full attention.
Personal communication between spouses, families, friends, and coworkers is an incredibly important aspect of daily life. Doing it well will surely increase your happiness and that of those around you as people feel respected and heard, an important aspect of any personal relationship. Need more than a few tips? Lehigh Valley Counselors counseling for improved personal communication skills can help. Counseling can help people learn to communicate more effectively at home and at work, forging the path for stronger relationships and a healthier state of mind.
Call Lehigh Valley Counselors Counseling at 610-596-4222. We want to help you communicate.