Communication: the human connection.
Have you ever played the game “Telephone” as a child or even part taken in it as a team ice breaker? Well, I bet you wouldn’t believe that if any of your childhood games had any value to them, this would be the one. Think about it! What is the key to any and all relationships...yes! COMMUNICATION. It has been mentioned time and time again that the reason relationships fail or why a certain task in a work setting isn’t done accordingly, is because things were not communicated clearly. This results in a not so pleasant domino effect. Whether it was something not communicated and understood clearly on the first day or first time around, somewhere down the line you will run into an issue. So, what is actual good and effective communication?
Effective communication is having the ability to relay a message to someone and that individual receiving and understanding exactly what you were saying to them; not guessing what you meant, not “kind of ” doing what you said or saying “Oh well, close enough”. The ability to communicate is an essential skill in today’s world and it is a very detailed process. Depending on how well you have mastered it, it can positively or negatively impact the relationships you have at work or in life.
First, we must understand that communication is more than just our words, it also includes: How you speak or "say it”—including the tone of your voice.
Why you say it—what is the intention behind the message you are giving?
When you say it—is it during or after an argument? A team discussion?
What you don’t say—are you leaving out important details that could give a clearer picture?What your body language saying—be aware of your posture, gestures and facial expressions.
The key to successfully communicating a message is to also listen carefully and be present. This is called proactive listening and this method keeps you locked in on whoever you are having a conversation with. Listen to the other person with your undivided attention. Make sure that throughout the conversation you are asking questions because sometimes we tend to tune others out even though they are sitting right in front of us, or even through a phone call—Have you ever found yourself asking what did they even say? Or when asked for an opinion, you have to ask again? This is to avoid that. You are simply reflecting what they are saying by asking questions and not only reassuring yourself, but the speaker that you are truly taking in what they are telling you. If need be, remind yourself how frustrated you feel when someone isn’t paying attention to you and you are telling them something important about your day.
So, why should you brush up on your communication skills? It is because the most basic of all human needs, is the need to understand and be understood. Take into consideration the amount of issues in today’s society because most people feel misunderstood; social anxiety, depression, and even self-isolation because people feel like they just don’t “fit in”. Think of a therapist for example. People go to these professionals because they finally found someone that they can confidently trust that will listen to them. I am not saying be a therapist, but take some of their skills; active listening, asking questions, and taking notes! There is absolutely nothing wrong with jotting things down that your loved ones tell you or that your coworkers are asking about. If anything, this will be appreciated, and others will feel valued that you remembered certain things that they even forgot they had shared with you! You will look like a million bucks. Use active listening to your advantage.
Once you break the barrier of communicating effectively, you will find that a lot of issues will disappear. Your partner will not wonder if you are listening to their needs and your team will see that you care. If you can communicate, you can do anything as an individual and as a team!