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10 Ways to Have Excellent Communication with Your Loved One

10 Ways to Have Excellent Communication with Your Loved One

Communication is absolutely vital for every relationship, whether it’s with a spouse, a child, a parent, or a dear friend. In our harried, hectic daily lives, we can often forget just how important simple acts are for maintaining a strong, healthy connection, but by devoting some time to re-establishing those connective threads with those we love, we can keep our bonds strong.

1. Listen, don’t just wait to speak.

One of the main problems that people have when communicating with others is that they don’t actually take the time to listen. Sure, they hear the general gist of what the other person is saying, but they’re mostly just biding time until they can toss their two cents into the mix.

Draw your attention out of your own cranium, and really listen to what’s being said to you. Once the other person has finished speaking (and don’t even think about interrupting them or finishing their sentences), take a moment to mull over what they’d said before responding: you’ll be able to process everything in depth, and give them a reply that’s sincere.

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2. Be honest.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again: the worst truth is better than the best lie. True friends are those who will tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it (albeit gently and tactfully), and couples who are honest with one another can weather life’s storms as a team, rather than staying silent about issues until they overflow and damage things beyond repair. If you’re gentle and honest with those you love, you can work through any trial together, with love and compassion.

3. Write!

Written words are powerful for more than one reason: the recipient can read your note/letter/card over and over again so the words can be learned by heart, and they can also recognize the fact that you took the time to write something to them by hand. Emails are all well and good for a moment’s communication, but when you write someone a letter, even if it’s just a couple of sentences in a store-bought card, you let them know just how important they are to you.

4. Go outside.

Make plans to take an outing together, where you’ll be free from distractions like TV, internet access, etc. Consider turning your phones off while you’re out there so you can really immerse yourselves in nature, and enjoy beautiful things together. Having a picnic in a park, exploring your local waterfront, or hiking nature trails in the forest gives you a perfect opportunity to pay attention to one another while experiencing all the rejuvenation the natural world has to offer. Being outside can lift everyone’s spirits, and an environment that’s fresh and alive is a perfect place to talk about new ideas, projects, or even life changes you’ve had in mind.

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5. Make a physical connection.

Did you know that babies who don’t get enough physical contact often fail to thrive, and can even die from lack of touch? The need for physical contact is so ingrained in humans that we actually fail to thrive without it. When you spend time with those you love, be sure to make some kind of contact from time to time to reinforce your connection with them. Holding hands, hugging, or even just sitting side by side with shoulders/legs touching is enough to provide reassurance and comfort.

6. Let them know how you feel.

How many times have we heard about people who have lost a loved one and then lamented that they never told them how they really felt? Too often, that’s for sure. If you value someone’s creativity, if you appreciate how they take care of you, if you enjoy their company, or any other wonderful aspect about them, let them know. Not only will you brighten their day, but they’ll realize their worth to you. This is particularly important for kids between the ages of 12 and 18, as their emotions are all over the place and they need reassurance and love, even as they try to push others away.

7. Recognize their “prime time”.

Some people are at their best and most alert first thing in the morning, while others prefer to socialize after dinner. If the one you love is a groggy mess for the first 3 hours after waking, it’s not a good time to talk to them about anything important during that time. Communication will be much smoother when you can approach them during their “prime time”.

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8. Take time outs as needed.

If you’re trying to talk to someone about something important, and emotions start to get fired up, it may be best to take a break and then return to the conversation when you’ve both calmed down. When tensions run high, things may be said in anger that can’t be taken back, so it’s best to go for a walk or meditate a bit, and then come back with a better attitude and more perspective on the issue at hand.

9. Make sure that solo time is respected.

Everyone needs “alone” time to recharge and just escape from the world at large, and if that’s intruded upon, it creates frustration and irritation: two ingredients that do not create a healthy environment for communication. Always ask the other person if it’s a good time to talk, if they seem to be engrossed in solo time, and establish that you need to be asked as well. Additionally, if you’ve planned a block of time in which you really just want to be left alone, let others know: they’re not mind readers.

10. Use “I” or “Me” statements when broaching difficult subjects.

If you’re frustrated or upset about a situation or behaviour, try to avoid being accusatory—that will just result in the other person getting defensive and bristly. Instead of beginning a sentence with “You really upset me when…”, start with “I felt really upset when…”, as that puts the focus on you and allows them to contemplate the actions that caused your reaction, rather than feeling as though they’re being attacked.

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Don’t hesitate to let the other person know if you ever feel uncomfortable or awkward broaching a topic as well: acknowledging that you feel weird about it can diffuse a lot of tension, and actually make them more receptive to discussing it, which ends up being better for everyone in the long run.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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