Better communication skills will make for better relationships and better leaders. Remember that communication is a flow of information, and be open to giving and receiving constructive criticism, as well as compliments.
One vital component of communication is the ability to listen effectively. I've noticed that people don't listen anymore. They hear the words, but they don't process or give much attention to the information. Communication is not just waiting to jump in, or taking control of the flow of the conversation. It is absorbing and processing what is being said. If the listener is unable to give an opinion, get a word in, or execute instructions, communication is flawed.
With email and text messaging swiftly becoming the preferred means of communication, we seem to have lost the desire to interact verbally. Email and text messaging are flat forms of communication. Reading words on a screen is not the same as verbal expression. One cannot experience the emotions behind mere words. This often leaves the reader confused, as to the emotions behind the words. Too often we use these forms of communication to avoid responsibility, to shrug people off, or to avoid discussing sensitive topics. Relationships are terminated via email and text messaging, and spouses use Facebook as a form of revenge. The result is that we no longer connect with each other on an intimate level, and grow insensitive to the feelings of others.
When communicating, make eye contact and be present. Roaming eyes suggest lack of interest. We don't have to agree with what's being said, but all deserve to be heard. Being present is very important to building relationships because much of our communication is cathartic. Some individuals are afraid to vent or voice their needs, because their significant other gives the impression that their desires are unimportant. In an attempt to be heard, some cheat and others vent to third parties. This exacerbates the situation rather than provide solutions. It's hurtful when others feel what they have to say is not worth being expressed, and it's disrespectful to have others feel that way, unless one is trying to avoid an argument.
When someone is speaking, keep an open mind instead of waiting anxiously for that person to finish. Refrain from cutting the speaker off mid-sentence, or interjecting, especially with irrelevant information. Most importantly, offer your undivided attention. It's difficult to express genuine interest, identify with a particular point of view, or formulate a thoughtful rebuttal, in the midst of simultaneous conversations. Nothing is more annoying than speaking to someone who insists on carrying on multiple conversations. Find a quiet place and designate specific time to discuss matters.
Finally, think before responding. Once words are released they cannot be taken back. Proverbs 25:11 says, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Always communicate from a place of love. A hostile response, packed with a lot of attitude and aggressive body language, will immediately put the other person in defensive mode. It might even start an argument, and makes it difficult for that person to receive what is being said, even if it's beneficial.
Photo Credit To Mike Arauz