My biggest tip to improve relationships? Proper communication!
When you communicate openly and honestly, you will avoid confusion, create accountability, and provide purpose to the exchange. When people feel heard, respected, and understood, it creates a better environment for the relationship (whether it’s personal or professional) to thrive.
But sometimes, this is easier said than done. Finding ways that will help you get your point across clearly without causing a conflict can be a challenge in some relationships. Here are my top tips for improving communication that you can use both in the workplace and in your private life.
Tip #1: Practice active listening
Strong communication skills start with strong listening skills. You have to actively listen to what the other person is saying, before you can formulate a response. Start by avoiding distractions, such as your phone or TV, and providing the other person with your full attention.
Tip #2: Be open and honest
Just as with any aspect of a strong relationship, strong communication stems from honesty. Be honest with yourself and others about your feelings, thoughts, and concerns. This will help build trust and intimacy and establish a strong foundation for your relationship. It will also help the other person understand you and your needs better.
Tip #3: Avoid blaming or constant criticism
Constructive criticism is great for improving relationships but constantly blaming or criticizing the other person will have the opposite effect. When you point fingers, it automatically sends the other person into a defensive position and makes it harder for your message to come across clearly.
Rather than placing blame, work through the actual situation and focus more on “I” statements than “you” statements. For example, if you feel as though someone slighted you, instead of saying “you lied about this”, try “I don’t think I had the entire story and that made me feel XYZ.” This makes it clear that the problem is the situation and how it unfolded and not actually the other person.
Tip #4: Take responsibility and apologize when necessary
Most of the time, when there is a communication breakdown, it’s not solely one person’s fault. If this happens, take responsibility for your part of the breakdown and apologize when necessary. When you do this, you show that you are willing to work on yourself to improve the relationship.
Tip #5: Practice empathy
Going into any relationship with empathy is a great way to build a solid foundation. When you are able to understand and share the feelings and positions of others, it will also improve your communication skills. When you work to actively understand the other person’s perspective, it helps to defuse conflicts, find solutions that work for everyone, and demonstrate that you are willing to compromise.
Improving your communication skills is an ever-evolving process and one that requires consistent effort and commitment. If you follow these five tips, you will be able to build a solid foundation of trust and understanding that will help any relationship to thrive!