It is such a broad and weighty term. It’s a subject that commonly comes up in our workplace environment surveys and is frequently noted as a key challenge in our relationships, whether it’s work, family, or friends related. Perhaps, when we use the word “communication”, what we are really referring to is “effective communication”.
While only 10% of our communication is verbal, humans are very verbal beings. And, how we exhibit that 10% is crucial to our relationships and interactions with one another.
So what does effective communication look like? It’s important to note that the tone (i.e. overall quality and voice) of our message is just as important as the message itself, regardless of the format (e.g. email, face-to-face, texting). To our audiences, our tone decodes the true or underlying intent and energy of our communications. Practicing personal check-ins ensure our communication style is more proactive, non-judgmental, non-accusatory, open-ended, solutions oriented and timely which also assists us with tempering our message’s tone:
Proactive: Initiate and be open to engaging in open dialogues to communicate desires, concerns, needs and intentions before and/or during instead of after we have acted on them. Being proactive fosters a respectful and courteous environment for effective communication to occur in our relationships.
Non-judgmental: When we are in the midst of our emotions it is often difficult not to cast value judgments on each other. However, a judgmental approach can often be perceived as a combative approach to others who are concerned. Even when unintentional, it effectively shuts down the possibility of an open, positive and productive discourse as it puts the listener on the defensive. The end result being a hurtful round of the “blame game”. Taking a step back to name, acknowledge, accept and process our emotions makes it easier to be non-judgmental when trying to relay our message and feelings clearly.
Non-accusatory: Taking ownership is integral to relationship building and communication bridging. It lessens the likelihood of having unproductive, cyclical interactions where no resolutions are reached. Whether conflict driven or not, there is always more than one side, aspect or variable involved in a situation. Taking a non-accusatory position shows (and leads by example) what integrity, open-mindedness and authenticity we truly can hold.
Open-ended: Illicit open-ended instead of close-ended questions when initiating or taking part in a dialogue. As with value judgments, close-ended lines of enqiry can limit or even shut down communications. Open-ended questions allow for a free flow of communication and the opportunity for increased capacity for mutual sharing, problem solving and understanding.
Solutions oriented: Generates more of a positive, consensus driven atmosphere where no one person’s agenda is solely being pushed forward. It’s an environment of high productivity where brainstorming and creativity ignites. Solutions focused communications are goal oriented (i.e. What do I wish to achieve? What do I wish to express? What do they wish to achieve and express?), thus ensuring all sides gain a desired outcome from the exchange.
Timely: When conflict driven, take a “cooling off” period that is communicated beforehand, so that we can manage the tone of our message and not get caught up in judgments and accusations. However, negative, non-verbal communication such as the silent treatment, giving the cold shoulder, snubbing, and prolonged non contact pose as harmful delays. Regardless of conflict, timing is everything! For example, telling our partner of our need for social time prior to going out shows respect, and gives them the opportunity to voice their interest, support, understanding or concerns- being proactive.
Effective communication is a communal effort; it outlines our personal boundaries and manages our relational expectations. By doing so, it decreases conflict and gives us tools to navigate conflict in a more favourable light. When we practice effective communication it demonstrates our commitment to treating each other respectfully and compassionately.
I see you, I talk to you and I hear you positively and lovingly 🙂
The Process of Life blog posts are inspired lessons, learnings and meditations acquired for myself and my fellow growth journeyers- Coach Melanie
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