Communication Is Easy, Right?
So you think communicating is easy, huh? After all, you’ve been communicating since about age 2 or 3 when you mumbled that first word. Although you may think uttering that first word was your first stab at communication, you were actually communicating well before that time. When babies cry or make sour or happy faces, they are also communicating even though it’s nonverbally!
Communication may seem easy. However, it involves more than merely putting words together to form sentences. Communicating with others not only includes the words that come out of our mouths, it also includes our body language or listening/attending skills and the tone we use.
Part I: Effective Communication: The Words We Use
1. Express yourself using “I Statements,” not “You Statements.” When you tell someone how you feel, it is important to tell the person how you feel, rather than accuse, blame, attack, or imply about the other person’s actions, thoughts, intent, etc.
A commonly used communication model is below:
When you ___________________,I feel _______________________.
For example, “When you don’t look at me while I’m talking, I feel ignored.”
“You’re completely ignoring me.”
“You Statements” may lead to the other person feeling put down, guilty, defensive, etc. When you express your feelings, it’s much harder for someone to feel defensive because then you are just speaking for yourself, no one else.
2. Specifically and clearly identifying feelings is also important in communication. Review the feeling words list below to learn about more feelings than the typical happy, mad, sad.
full of dread
filled with hate
filled with grief
3. Use assertive communication.
Part II: Listening/Attending Skills and Body Language
1. “Pseudo-Listening” versus “Real Listening.” What’s the difference? Pseudo-listening is when one looks as if he or she is listening, though is not. Typically a lot of head nodding and “uh-huh”s occur though the person isn’t following a word. Real listening is when one thinks about what the speaker is saying and is engaged in the communication.
2. When one is truly listening, this is nonverbally communicated to the speaker, and the listener uses body language to convey this. The most common body language signals include the following:
- Making eye contact with the speaker
- Facing the person
- Keeping the body open
- Making appropriate facial expressions towards the speaker
- Relaxed posture without the interruption of fidgeting
3. After the speaking is finished talking or takes a pause, you can then show the speaker than you were listening by paraphrasing or reflecting back to the speaker. This means that you restate, in your own words, the message/main ideas/feelings, etc that the speaker has just conveyed. (i.e. “So you had a pretty bad evening after your hard day at work.”) This allows the speaker to feel understood. You may also reflect feelings and/or offer support for the speaker’s feelings. (i.e. “Wow, that sounds really tough. Let me know if I can do anything for you.”)
With some practice of these skills, you should be well on your way to effective communication!
Last updated: 12/23/2016