Good communication leads to good relationships.
1Learn to listen
Often, we don’t listen enough, whether because we’re easily distracted or because we’d prefer to be the ones who are talking. When we talk, we are in control of the situation; we are the center of attention, and we don’t have to listen to something that we may not find very interesting.
In this scenario, we listen, not so we can understand, but so that we can think of a reply that helps get our own point across. Listening and paying attention to someone requires a real effort, but it is of great importance if we want to have a real conversation with someone else.
2Recognize your ignorance
Listening to someone who is a know-it-all is boring and predictable. It’s important for us to recognize that there are many things we don’t know, and to begin every conversation with the awareness that there is always something we can learn.
Listening sincerely requires that we set ourselves and our own opinions aside, and be open to what the other person has to say. All of us are experts in something, and every person we meet may know something we don’t. Every conversation is an authentic opportunity to learn.
3Be present to the other person
When we communicate, it’s important that we focus on the present moment. It’s not enough that we put down our cell phone, turn away from our computer, and leave off whatever we are doing: we must be totally attentive ,and mentally and emotionally present to the other person in such a way that they feel valued and appreciated.
Often, our mind drifts to other places while we are listening to someone; we listen for a few minutes, but then we start to think about other things. If we really aren’t interested in a conversation, it’s better for us to end it, instead of being only half-present.
4Don't refer everything to your own personal experiences
When we listen to someone, we can be tempted to compare what they say to our own experiences, but the fact is that every experience is unique, and what that person needs while we are talking with them is to be listened to before we try to offer advice.
Even if we have experienced something similar, initially it won’t be helpful for us to describe our own experience. The conversation needs to be about them, not about us. We shouldn’t use someone else’s difficulty as an opportunity to shift the focus to our own sufferings and our own efforts to overcome them. If they want advice, they’ll probably ask for it.
5Don't be repetitive or drawn out in what you say
If we are repetitive, we will bore the people who are listening to us. When we have an idea we want to get across, we shouldn’t keep paraphrasing it time and time again without need.
We have to be clear about what we want to express. People aren’t interested in details that don’t help make our point. Giving too much information is a particularly common danger when talking about our job or our children. People really don’t care about every detail or every photo. What they are interested in is the person, what you are like and what you have in common with them.
In short, good interpersonal communication in the context of daily conversation requires us to focus more on our interlocutor than on ourselves, giving them our undivided attention and trying to empathize with them and understand them, being open to learning new things. We have to set both our ego and our cell phone aside and make room for the other person in our heart and mind. Only then will what we have to say be truly relevant to the conversation, and only then will we be able to establish a true human connection that can strengthen our relationship.
Read more: Are you guilty of conversational narcissism?
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