Sep 072016 6 Responses

5 Ways to Instantly Improve Communication

There are few things in life which we do more often with less skill than communicate. From before we are born, we are being communicated with and attempting to communicate to others. It could be argued that one of the greatest indicators of death is no longer sending or receiving messages of communication.

While no one is a master at communication, there are small steps we can take which will greatly increase our ability to understand and be understood.

5 Ways to Instantly Improve Communication

1. Understand you’re bad at communication (and so is everyone else). There is nothing more dangerous than believing you are good at something when you aren’t. The intersection of ignorance and arrogance is disastrous. By acknowledging our inability when it comes to communication, we are far more likely to: communicate more carefully, give grace to ourselves and others when mistakes occur, attempt to communicate with more frequency, expect problems to arise, and engage on a continual search for better methods.

When we fail to understand our inability regarding communication: we assume we are doing it well, are confused when problems arise, always blame others when things go wrong, put no effort in learning new skills, and repeat the same mistakes. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of Relationship Problems)

2. Believe listening is the beginning of communicating. To put listening before talking is to put others before self. When we do so, we are far more likely to communicate well. Consider how often we fail to listen because we are focusing on ourselves before others. Instead of truly listening to what others are saying, we are often:

Rehearsing: considering what we may say next.

Judging: filtering everything the other person says through a lens of contempt.

Daydreaming: allowing our mind to wander to other things.

Advising: trying to fix the first problem we hear rather than listening to the whole story.

Sparring: listening for the first point we can disagree with and jumping on that issue.

Placating: pretending to listen so the other person feels good, but never truly hearing what they say. (See: How to Make Your Wife Feel Heard)

Good communication is built on good listening. Until we humbly listen to others, we can never expect others to listen to us.

3. Decrease negative communications. “Do no harm” is not a perfect mantra in communication, but it’s not a bad goal. While we are destined to do some harm if we communicate, we should attempt to limit the damage as much as possible. Few things are as hurtful as words spoken at the wrong time or in the wrong way. (See: Gossip Is More Damaging than Adultery)

When it comes to negative forms of communication, they fall into several categories:

Empty words: words that don’t match our true thoughts or actions.

Gossip: a public broadcast of private matters.

Slander: knowingly spreading lies about another with the goal of causing injury.

Deceptive words: things said with the intent of misleading another.

Mockery: words intended to tear down others.

Seductive words: Saying things which sound good in hopes of manipulating others.

Perverse words: any word which leads another from truth and beauty.

Everyone makes mistakes. We will cause harm when we communicate with others. However, the more we can cut our negative communications, the more open others will be to hear what we say and to tell us what they think.

4. Increase positive communications. As we decrease negative communications, we should increase positive ones. The difficulty is that we don’t have to think before speaking negatively, but it takes great intention to speaking in a positive manner. Few people naturally speak freely when it comes to positive words.

Here are several categories of positive forms of communication.

Affirmation: recognizing and valuing someone’s feelings, experiences, or feelings.

Understanding: creating mutual agreement.

Encouragement: to place courage within another through words.

Transparency: to reveal something about yourself which assists another.

Empathy: to identify with the thoughts or feelings of another.

Humor: to bring lightheartedness

By increasing positive forms of communication, it provides a broader context for when mistakes occur and creates bonds which can endure poor moments of communication.

5. Ponder before you pour. No words are perfect, but some words are better than others. Before we pour out our speech, we should ponder several questions.

Should we speak or not? Most people never consider it, but just because we think of something doesn’t mean we have to say it. Most of our thoughts are better kept to ourselves.

What should we say? Put some thought into what is most important.

How should we say it? Consider the best way to communicate so the other person understands.

When should we say it? Timing can be everything. When is the moment the other person is most likely to listen?

A little thought can go a long way. By simply thinking through communication, we can avoid many pitfalls and have a far greater likelihood of communicating well. (See: Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words)

While we are bad at communication, our inability provides a great opportunity. When a person begins taking steps toward better communication–learning their weaknesses/tendencies, putting other people first, strengthening their listening skills, cutting negative habits, multiplying positive forms of communication, and processing through how to do better, they can see tremendous gains very quickly.

These five habits can have a instant influence on every relationship.


6 Responses to 5 Ways to Instantly Improve Communication

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