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Effective Communication

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now. I have been wondering why long periods of time with your loved ones cause people to have some sort of issues. We have this concept of “I need a break”. So I want to try to tackle how we can effectively communicate.

I think there are two parts to effective communication.

  1. Listening effectively
  2. Speaking effectively

Yeah I know It sounds really obvious and yet we (at least me. I’ll assume you too. Why else would you be reading this anyway) seem to have troubles. So, let’s dissect these seemingly obvious parts.

Listening effectively

Here’s how a normal conversation goes like,

Jay: speaks
May: speaks
Jay: speaks
May: speaks

Do you see the pattern ?

Essentially it’s like both Jay and May are just monologging at each other. There’s no conversation. There’s no listening.

What does it mean to listen?

To listen is to understand the other party. To step into their shoes. To see their point of view.

Why should I do that?

Because

A. It’ll help you understand the other party.

B. The other party will be more open to listen to you (and your opinions) because they see that you get them. And we naturally mirror someone whom we trust.

How do I listen effectively ?

Here are the things that you should absolutely avoid while in the listening phase

  • Sharing your opinion

    You don’t get to share your opinion right now. In fact they won’t listen to you. You haven’t established the trust yet.

  • Problem solving

    They don’t need you to solve their problems. They want you to understand them

  • Oneupmanship

    Now they won’t feel heard.

Instead,

Reflective Listening

Basically you try to reflect back their words.

  • It helps you understand them better,
  • It helps them poke holes in their own opinions

Here’s an example,

Jay: I’m feeling lonely

Bad replies,

May: I’m feeling lonely too (oneupmanship)
May: Why don’t you …. (Problem solving)
May: I think you should …. (Sharing your opinion)

Good reply,

May: Wow that sucks. Can you tell me more ?
Jay: I’ve nothing to do
May: It sounds hard to have nothing to do. Do you feel that way?

You keep on doing that and you understand them and you also help them understand that you understand them. It’s a win-win!

Speaking effectively

Now you’ve understood them and established a mutual trust, you can begin speaking. But what does that entail ?

Basically you want to convey other people what’s inside in a non judgmental way. That implies you know what’s inside. Now, I’m going to do a whole another post on understanding what’s inside you however for now, what you can do when you start speaking is,

  • Start with their viewpoint or Summarise what they’ve said
  • State your piece
  • Ask them if they follow you

This last part is just really important. You want to know if they get you or not. If they don’t, you restart the cycle. Effective communication is this laborious (it’s laborious because we haven’t been taught this way) process of going back and forth and understanding each other.

Lastly, I want to end with a note that communication is never about right and wrong. This is how twitter wars start lol. Everyone thinks that everyone is right and no one is communicating with each other. Just shouting their opinions (I’ve been guilty of this in the past btw). Effective communication is all about understanding each other and maneuvering your way around it.

Akash