- Do you find that many of your conversations quickly change direction?
- Do you start out talking about one thing, and before you know it you are talking about something completely different?
- Do your conversations tend to become emotional instead of logical?
- Do you often end up feeling frustrated because you didn’t get what you wanted out of the exchange?
This is normal. It’s not out of the ordinary for conversations to take sudden turns. It’s also not unusual for emotions to get involved without warning. Many times we begin a conversation thinking one thing and come away thinking another. And most of us have also come out of a conversation to find that we have committed to something we didn’t really want to do.
Conversations don’t have to be a mystery. They don’t have to end with you feeling unhappy, dissatisfied or frustrated with the outcome. You can increase your likelihood of getting what you want and need out of an exchange with these five simple, yet powerful tips.
That’s right, just five things! These simple steps can help you communicate more effectively. They will help keep your discussions on track, allow you to take into account what’s NOT being said, become more aware of yourself, and become more aware of the other person.
1. Define your goal/intention.
Do you want to:
- build trust and safety?
- ask for something you want?
- gain information?
Be clear on what you’re hoping to accomplish without being rigid. When conversations start to veer, stay on task by saying, “That’s a different subject. Let’s get back to…”
2. Notice non-verbal cues.
Much of our communication happens without words. Non-verbal signals account for 65% of what we communicate to others, tone of voice accounts for 30% and the words we speak, only 5%. Look for non-verbal evidence of annoyance or guardedness. Does the person you are speaking to have arms crossed, eyebrows furrowed, mouth frowning, or poor eye contact? Is there evidence of the opposite? Does the person have a soft, neutral face, open stance turned toward you or a smile?
3. Truly Listen.
Give the person who is speaking your undivided attention. In order to truly listen you must remain quiet, look at the speaker, and take in what they’re trying to say. You should NOT be multi-tasking or trying to formulate your next sentence. You will find that when you really listen, people will tell you about who they are as a person and how to connect with them.
4. Pay Attention to your Tone of Voice.
Become more aware of your own tone of voice and that of the person you are speaking with. If the person trails off at the end of the sentence, talks in a pressured, hurried way, or speaks very softly, he/she may be feeling unimportant. Is the tone of voice communicating unspoken anger? Is the tone of voice communicating caring and concern? Pay attention and it will give you a clue to how the other person is feeling.
5. Think Before You Speak.
Many, many people have gotten into BIG trouble by saying the first thing that came to mind. Slow down, especially if you’re nervous, tense or angry. Pause. Think first about what you really want to communicate before putting it into words.
Being aware of these five simple tips can make a huge difference in your conversations. But doing these five things on a regular basis takes insight and practice. We can help you with this. In fact, Couples Therapy Center has always taught clients to be more effective communicators because that enhances all relationships.
To learn more, schedule an appointment here at Couples Therapy Center. Call 908-246-3074, email firstname.lastname@example.org