Talk is cheap. This saying is a tired cliche, but it’s true. Communication, on the other hand, is a hot commodity. And effective communication is just one of those things that’s “priceless” in life.
The whole point of communication is to help the person on the other side of the conversation understand just what it is you’re trying to tell them, and vice versa.
So just how do you go about learning to get your point across with optimal comprehension and minimal confusion? Here are three effective ways on how to communicate effectively with co-workers, spouses and even your children:
1. Try to use “I” statements
The best way to speak your truth effectively on a regular basis, however, is to use “I” statements. When you keep the focus of the situation on what you’re experiencing – seeing, hearing, feeling and the why behind it – people are more open to seeing things from your perspective and often offer up their own explanations as well.
Being able to see things from the other person’s vantage point effectively reduces the risk of misunderstandings and potential arguments.
Mark Twain once said,
“Always tell the truth. That way you’ll never have to remember what you said.”
For many of us, that quote is nothing shy of brilliant as we have countless other things running through our minds at any given moment.
2. Ask open-ended questions
Think about the quote:
“There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.”
There may in fact be no stupid questions, but some questions are more effective for getting what you want than others.
For instance, say you have a teenage daughter. One day your teen comes home from school, and you ask her how her day was. She replies with a terse “Uh, horrible,” and stalks off to her room. Your mistake, in this example, is asking close-ended questions–that is, questions that can be answered with one word.
Open-ended questions require more than one-word answers and allow you to keep the conversation going with more open-ended questions. Next time try asking something like “So what did you talk about in history class today?”
Try this kind of communication when your children are upset as well. Use open lines of communication by letting them know you see they’re upset and you’re there for them when they are ready to talk. Then, actually listen. You can also use “I” statements to help them grasp that you’re actually trying to hear what they’re saying.
This new way of communicating with your children may take practice, but don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same is true about building trusting relationships.
You just might become the first person your kids come to for advice when times get tough. That is effective communication in daily life at its finest.
3. Say you’re sorry
Nothing breaks down communication barriers faster, or more effectively, than a heart-felt apology. Rarely is there room for pride in any type of communication, and owning up to an inadvertent wrong is one of the kindest and humblest ways to express yourself and show respect to the other person.
Speaking your truth with love and asking for forgiveness reinforces the building of trust and it tears down the defenses of the person receiving the apology. While you don’t have to say you’re sorry every day, be sure to take advantage of this tip every chance you get. After all, what goes around, comes around.
These tips are not mutually exclusive to just parents or family members. Using “I” statements, asking open-ended questions and saying you’re sorry – to name just a few ways of how to effectively communicate in your daily life – can be used with anyone at any time. Go ahead. Give it a whirl, and see what happens.
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