How To Communicate More Effectively

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Having solid relationships can be tough, as conflicts can arise and people can get busy. However, maintaining a relationship can boast tremendous rewards, and it's important to keep in touch with your network and to honor respect, love, and loyalty. Being a better communicator in relationships is pivotal, as relationships are built on communication, trust, and cooperation. Having great communication can also help in relationships in times of conflict, as poor communication might lead to less resolution, more tension, and a longer amount of time in relationship limbo, where both parties are struggling to make amends.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on honing their communication skills, as such skills will help them be more successful in social situations and work and office relations. Additionally, expressing your opinions effectively and portraying your message can help with getting what you want in life. By being direct with people and smoothing the execution of messaging and transactions, you'll get along better with people. Here are 11 ways to become a better communicator and to find more success in long-term, healthy relationships that can boost wellbeing and make you feel more connected to your surroundings. Such communication proficiency will enhance performance in basic daily functioning and help you achieve your goals.

1. Listen To Others

In interview with Bustle, Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director at BeWell Medical Group, explains how good communication starts with active listening. "Becoming a better communicator starts with becoming a good listener," says Ashe, and recommends taking time to pause on your own thoughts, direct attention to your partner's, and then re-evaluate on how to respond in order to address his or her feelings first.

2. Be Authentic

Expressing your own voice and messages, and sticking with your guns (unless you must admit to doing something wrong or need to negotiate in order to come to a fair resolution), can help you be authentic in your communication and opinions, explains Ashe. When you're authentic, you get your points across better. "Being true to yourself and finding your own voice," says Ashe, is incredibly powerful.

3. Know When To Calm Down

Arguments can get heated. If you're anything like I am, you might have a bit of temper and express emotions when too much pent up frustration and rage exist. However, knowing when you're getting overwhelmed and need to calm down can help regain composure and prevent your partner from withdrawing or getting defensive, explains Ashe. "In heated moments, take a pause," Ashe says, to gather your thoughts.

4. Look Beyond Words

"Sticks and stones," right? Words are just words, and sometimes they can be meaningless in communication and honesty. Looking beyond words and tuning into your partner's gestures and bodily actions can disclose his or her true feelings, explains Ashe. "Watch the listener's non verbal communication to help guide the conversation," Ashe recommends.

5. Be Mindful Of Your Own Body Language

It's not only helpful to look at the body language of others in order to gather what they are truly thinking, but it's also a good idea to be mindful of your own body language and to make sure that your gestures and words are aligned, says Ashe. When you communicate words that are not authentic, it shows, and it can lead to problems in the relationship down the road. "Watch your non verbal communication to make sure you body language matches your words," says Ashe.

6. Break It Down Into Simple Terms

Sometimes conflicts become incredibly complex, especially if it's relative to larger problems, such as children, marriage, work, or big life transitions that affect another person. Communicating in simple terms can take out some of these language barriers and emotional challenges and help to expedite understanding and resolution, explains Ashe. Use basic language, and go point by point.

7. Use Mindfulness

According to Lynne Goldberg, certified meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG. I Can Meditate! app, over email with Bustle, "mindfulness allows us to be present with all of our senses. Therefore, you're not only listening to the words that the person is saying, but you're also paying attention to the body language and tone of voice," says Goldberg. "This helps us to really be aware of what the other person is trying to convey," Goldberg continues.

8. Be Empathic

Goldberg suggests "being empathic and reserving judgment" in order to step outside of your own viewpoints and bubble and look into your partner's soul and perspective. By embracing the other's voice and mind, you'll be able to come to a resolution easier, as you'll have a greater foundation as to what his or her goals and desires are. Remembering to think of the other person can help improve communication.

9. Get Enough Regular Sleep

Over email with Bustle, Rachel Wong, a Sleep Research Specialist at OSO says that "communicating requires a brain that’s adept at empathy, recall, making value judgments, reading emotions, and thinking about future consequences, expectations, and goals," says Wong. "When you’re sleep deprived, all of these qualities are turned on their heads and you become easily distracted, less creative, and less able to integrate and recall information. Thus, our ability to do well in conversation and pick up on information we get from other people is compromised," Wong expresses.

10. Ask Questions

In order to be a better communicator, it's important to understand all the information at hand before answering hastily without adequate details. Thus, asking questions when communicating with someone is the easiest way to gather all the insight available and to really understand what's going on in that person's mind. When you're given answers, you're better able to respond and are seen as more credible regarding the topic.

11. Don't Use Generalizations

Using generalizations and flooding with information or criticisms during arguments can hurt communication and prolong the tension for longer than it needs to last. Sticking to the topic at hand and focusing on a sole, selective issue, can help move things along in the discussion and find a way to meet in the middle, at a more efficient pace. When there's too much info or criticisms, emotions can get out of hand, and it's hard to process the material.

Being a great communicator is a life skill that is incredibly valuable and can do wonders for building and maintaining successful social, personal, familial, and business relationships going forward. When a message is direct, composure is balanced, perspective is in place, and voice and opinion are authentic, communication is smoother and more effectively executed.

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