Posted on: June 10, 2019
What is communication? Simply put, it’s a way of sharing information with others. In today’s world, there are a plethora of ways to communicate – verbal, non-verbal, email, texts, social media, DMs – the list can go on and on and yet, one of the biggest issues we see is a lack of effective communication. Let’s break it down.
There are four types of communication:
Aggressive – Aggressive communicators issue commands, ask questions rudely, and fail to listen to others. They demand that their needs or wants are heard. They have a difficult time considering the thoughts and feelings of others.
Passive/Aggressive –Passive/Aggressive communicators will often seem passive but will have aggression and resentment simmering just below the surface. They often are aware of their needs and wants but have a difficult time asking for them to be met. They will commonly mutter things under their breath rather than communicate clearly.
Assertive – Assertive communicators are open. They are able to communicate honestly and effectively about their wants and needs while also considering the thoughts and feelings of others.
For effective communication, clearly our goal is to communicate assertively. So, how do we become assertive communicators? Here are some keys to communicating effectively:
Active Listening – Yep, listening is a pretty key factor in communication. Active listening includes paying attention, withholding judgement, paraphrasing what you are hearing, and clarifying content. It also includes non-verbal cues such as making eye contact, nodding, and leaning into the conversation.
Asking Open Ended Questions – Asking open ended questions promotes communication and allows the person you’re speaking with to formulate their own ideas to discuss. This is quite different than close ended questions that require only a yes or no response. Think of the difference between asking “We don’t have a problem, do we?” and “What problems do you see?”
Using “I” Statements – An “I” statement focuses on the feelings and beliefs of the speaker rather than those of the listener. “I” statements help the person speaking communicate their feelings without being aggressive or accusatory. Most people do not communicate with “I” statements and it may take some practice to feel comfortable and use them effectively. Think of the difference between shouting at your partner “You never listen to me!” and saying “I feel unheard when you walk away from me.” This can open the opportunity to assertively ask to have your needs met.
Be Mindful! – During conversations, are you sitting with your arm crossed? Are you looking at your phone? Are you looking past the person who is talking so that you can see the tv? What is your body language communicating? That you are open and listening? Or that you are bored and uninterested. Think about your own perceptions. How do they influence the way you communicate or the way you filter what you hear? Self-awareness is another key to effectively communicating.
I hope this article has been helpful. Now let’s start communicating!