The Fundamentals of Communication
Earlier we discussed why communication is important. The mere quantity of just how much we communicate demands its importance. Not only that but communication occurs in two instances - within yourself and to others. Both have overlapping and lasting effects. In this article we will discuss how to communicate effectively and ineffectively and their resulting benefits (or consequences).
How to Communicate Effectively
Effective and ineffective communication resembles the life of a seed. Good communication results in nurturing a good habit (the seed). Failing to do so will starve the seed and sometimes lead to missed opportunities for growth.
Oftentimes simply avoiding ineffective communication can result in great communication between yourself and others. The lack of poor practice will organically create space for good habits to enter. If anything it will demonstrate to whomever you are speaking with you are listening, which is the first step.
Before a seed can grow into a thriving plant many other steps are involved. Similarly great communication begins even before the first word is spoken. Showing the other person you are ready to listen, giving them your undivided attention, and being receptive of their thoughts creates a space for the other person to speak.
Once that space for open communication has begun the other person will typically lean into that confidence and more organic communication can flow. Back to the seed example. If the media, or soil, of that seed is whenever you are chatting, it is important to water that space. Good communication “waters” the soil for further great conversation. Poor communication will “starve” the soil for any future instances.
In other words create space for good communication → organic communication occurring→ more great communication takes place after that.
How to Communicate Ineffectively
An easy way to determine whether or not you are communicating ineffectively is to simply ask yourself if you would appreciate the way you are communicating. When situations begin to get cloudy and complicated this simple method can serve as a compass granting direction in hard to navigate situations. There is a great chance the other person has similar tendencies as you and will desire/not desire similar methods as yourself.
Complexities are around every corner for most conversations. Past hurts or instances or triggers can lie dormant like landmines. Anticipating these and avoiding them are key. Blundering into conversations and remaining ignorant of these can lead to ineffective communication.
Another helpful litmus test to gauge ineffective/effectiveness lies in your ability to recall the other person's words. If you can hardly recall what the other person has said - what does that say about how much you have actually been paying attention? Instead it demonstrates how distracted you were or preoccupied. Whatever the case the result remains the same. You haven’t retained hardly any information the other person said and now clarification and repetition is needed.
To summarize - all effective and ineffective communication will act in compounding ways. Demonstrating poor communication will further exacerbate the other person's ability to trust you will listen to them. In other words demonstrating consistently strong listening skills creates an automatic bridge of trust for the other person to get right to the heart of the matter.
How You Can Improve Your Communication Skills Today
Here is a simple do & do not list. Remember every time you commit a ‘Do’ on the list imagine you are watering the seeds for good communication. Likewise - failing to practice good communication will starve an otherwise ripe opportunity. Even if the ‘seeds’ of communication are parched and have not received the care and attention in a long time it’s never too late. Like a plant that hasn’t received the cool touch of water in ages it will warmly welcome the first drops.
The keep it simple list
of Dos and Don'ts
Maintain eye contact
Make a habit of these skills
Send signals you aren’t listening
Make any effort to improve your communication and remain stagnant