Healthy Communication

Part of a healthy relationship is having good communication. Being able to communicate to those close to us and those we interact with on a daily basis, whether in your job or in line at the grocery store, helps us stay connected and to continue to create meaningful connections. The question is what does good communication look like and how can we implement it? 

The basis of any communication is being open and honest with the other person. This means expressing thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly without fear of judgment or reprisal. This is especially needed in intimate relationships. Without open communication, distrust and resentment become present in the relationship, causing it to slowly fall apart. Being able to be open with friends and coworkers is also important when fostering relationships. Being genuine and authentic helps bring about authentic connections and you are able to feel like yourself creating less stress. You want to be in an environment where you feel safe to express your thoughts and feelings without judgment. 

A part of being open and honest is also being active in your listening. This looks like rephrasing what you hear and listening to understand instead of waiting for your turn to speak. You acknowledge their feelings and are empathizing with them. This can also look like putting your device away when someone is talking and facing them, making eye contact, and being engaged in the conversation by asking follow up questions. At work, this can look like giving full attention to customers or other coworkers during a meeting or conversation. Asking follow up questions shows you are engaged and wanting to fully understand their perspective, which can help foster the interaction and create a positive experience for both parties. 

Non verbals are 80% of communication. Body language, tone of voice, and facial expression say more than we think they do. Paying attention to those cues in conversation can help you determine where to go in the conversation or maybe determine if you need to continue the conversation or not. It can show you more of how they are feeling than what they are saying. This can be very present in your intimate relationships as you tend to know the person on a more personal level so you can gauge more based on body language. Being aware of how someone is presenting themselves can help you know what questions to ask and gain clarity into the conversation especially during conflict.  

Being able to have a constructive conversation during conflict is another big part of good communication. When conflict comes up, address it as soon as you can and don’t wait for the other person to bring it up. It may not be as important to them as it is to you. During conflict you are not only able to express your needs and emotions, but you are also willing to compromise and find a mutual understanding and resolution. Stay calm and collected, making sure you are aware of your own emotional expression and focus on the conflict at hand by not bringing up things from the past or using hurtful words to make yourself feel better. Focus on finding a resolution rather than assigning blame. 

Always have respect for people you are conversing with, no matter their position or background. Treating someone with respect goes a long way in a conversation. Even if you have differing points of view or background it doesn’t mean you are unable to have a meaningful conversation with someone where you are asking clarifying questions, empathizing, or seeing their perspective. Using labeling and hurtful language causes a riff in the conversation and turns into both parties trying to defend themselves instead of understanding each other. Without respect, you have no empathy and being able to have empathy in the conversation builds community and relationship even if you don’t necessarily agree with the other person. Be willing to see the other person's perspective or experience. 

Finally, be clear and concise in your communication. Don’t leave the other person wondering what you mean or what you expect. Don’t expect the other person to know what you mean or that they can read your thoughts. It may be obvious to you, but not to them. Always go in a conversation with the expectation that they may not understand you right away. Being clear in your language will prevent misunderstanding and foster deeper connections and understanding. 

By implementing these healthy communication practices in various settings, you can foster stronger relationships, improve collaboration, and create a more positive and supportive environment overall. We want to have meaningful connections with those around us and being able to communicate can foster deep connections and give purpose and meaning in our lives.