All of our relationships, with friends, parents, partners, and even employers or co-workers, can benefit from working on our interpersonal communication skills and being more open with one another.
Don’t let your relationships continue to suffer by making basic communication errors. Improve the quality of your relationships with these communication tips.
Make eye contact and lean forward
One easy way to improve your relationships is by using positive body language, like making eye contact when you’re having a conversation. When you’re talking, it will make you seem more trustworthy and sincere. When someone is talking to you, it will make you look more interested and involved in the conversation.
Learning forward is another form of positive body language that will physically show the person you’re talking to that you are actively engaged in the conversation.
Asking questions is another way to show someone that you are invested in a discussion. This can be particularly important if someone is talking about their emotions, health, or an emotionally charged situation that they are involved in.
If something is being explained to you, like a list of instructions or requests, asking questions can also help ensure that you fully understand what is expected of you and can prevent you from making simple errors.
Repeat and reword
Rephrasing what someone is telling you not only shows that you are paying attention, but it also gives the other person the opportunity to correct you if you are misunderstanding something.
For example, if your friend is telling you that she thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her because he has been avoiding her recently, you can say, “So because he’s canceled your last few dates and hasn’t returned your phone calls, you’re afraid he might be cheating?” This will give her the opportunity to agree or disagree and then add on to her concerns.
Tell them how you feel
If you’re angry or upset with someone, you can maintain open communication in your relationship by letting them know. Saying “When you talk over me, it makes me feel like my opinions don’t matter” gives the person a chance to understand how their behaviors affect you, without feeling attacked.
In many cases, a person may not realize their actions are making you feel a certain way, so being open can give them the chance to understand your perspective and change their behaviors.
Give improvements, not complaints
After telling someone how their actions affect your emotions, try giving them an improvement on how to change, rather than complaining. For example, after telling someone that you feel unimportant when they talk over you, you could say, “Could you try waiting until I finish talking before you start your story?”
This can also work in the workplace. Instead of giving criticisms to your co-workers, give suggestions by saying, “I’ve noticed you do that. It might make your job easier if you do this instead.” This is another way to be open with someone and encourage them to change their behaviors without attacking or criticizing.