Sometimes it feels like relationships are just one big tedious argument of “but that’s not what I said!” Couples, parents and their children, friends, co-workers, are always struggling through miscommunication and frustration.
Sure, when calm, communicating comes easily. Everyone seems to be in harmony and mutual understanding. But moments when interactions go haywire it’s often triggered by:
- that look she/he gave
- the tone of her/his voice
- a stressful moment
- or that hangry time of day
In these moments, all sense of presumed communicative talent is forgotten.
The moment of miscommunication
Knowing the moments when miscommunication are prone to happen is rather easy to identify. However, most people don’t ever really learn how or why thoughts are miscommunicated. Often, it’s not just the fault of the words themselves. It is a reaction to egos being challenged and an inability to hear or say what is at the core of thoughts.
Egos and body language are barriers to fully understanding and effectively communicating. The following advice will help correct your poor communication habits, and open you to clear and effective communication.
Breath and Stay Calm
Children are taught to think about their questions or comments before raising their hands. Unfortunately, most adults completely abandon this prized advice. When the moment is heated, people rush to speak (or yell) first. The impulse to react to what someone just said is strong. But, taking a moment or two to collect your thoughts helps curtail a few main communication flaws:
- Speaking before you know exactly what it is you need to communicate
- Talking with a harsh and severe tone of voice
- Overreacting to the other persons jumbled thoughts and severe tone of voice
Collecting your calm helps you stay focused and organized with your thoughts.
Watch Your Body
Body language is so important in effective and clear communication. The beloved (and despised) passive-aggressive behavior that mothers, roommates, and best friends have come to master is the antithesis of good communication. The body deceives the words and it drives you mad!
To communicate a sense of understanding or empathy, it is crucial that the body relays that sentiment as well. Tapping your foot impatiently while waiting for the other person to stop speaking or avoiding their eye contact are all easy ways to escalate an otherwise potentially calm dialogue.
Change Your Experience Of Others
The first two pieces of advice are worth nothing if this last subject is left unaddressed. It’s where an understanding of ego comes into play. Overreaction often occurs when insult or offense and our ego takes a blow. However, most of the time, the other person has no idea what they triggered in your own head. Our subconscious memories of what has informed our opinions and disposition towards others ´sentiments. If we release others from the expectation of knowing what’s going on in our head, we can open up dialogue to be more subtle and understanding.
Robert Smith of FasterEFT helps individuals change their experience of others. FasterEFT functions on the belief that if you are aware of your own emotional baggage you can better understand your emotions, and respond to the individual you speaking to, and not responding to your own emotional response.
A New Phase
Reading this advice and understanding the words is the first step. The next step is to practice the skill and transform it to habit. It is important to be kind to yourself as you learn to incorporate this advice. The more of a concerted and active effort you make to correct your experience of others, the easier it will be for the other communication skills to follow suit.