Communication is key to maintaining healthy relationships, but we’ll admit that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Unfortunately, many people struggle with communicating effectively. If you’ve noticed any communication barriers in your current relationships, use these tips to overcome them.
Engage in Active Listening
Active listening is a powerful tool that can eliminate many communication barriers. To do this, you should be engaged and focused on what the other person says. You should also avoid distractions like checking your phone. Lastly, ask questions to clarify points and show the other person you’re paying attention.
Pay Attention to Your Nonverbal Communication
Your body language should make the other person feel you’re engaged in the conversation. Nonverbal cues also include facial expressions and tone of voice. Before making a point, ensure these cues come across neutral and approachable to ensure your message is received as intended. For example:
- Keep your posture open and relaxed (no hands on your hips).
- Don’t cross your arms or legs (it feels closed off).
- Use eye contact to show interest in what the other person is saying.
- Smile (when appropriate).
- Pay attention to your tone to ensure it’s consistent with your message.
Empathy is the ability to see things from someone else’s point of view. Working on this in your relationships, you can better understand the other person’s motives and needs. Practicing empathy can increase trust and prevent future arguments and misunderstandings.
To get started, practice putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Imagine what it would be like to be in their situation. Understand the emotions driving their behavior to find an amicable solution through conversation.
Defensiveness is one of the most common barriers to effective communication. It usually occurs when criticism is given from the other side. It’s a natural reaction when we feel threatened or judged. To overcome defensive behavior, you must first understand the root cause (as mentioned, it usually comes from feeling attacked). When confronted with feedback you don’t like, try to understand the other person’s perspective and listen.
If you find yourself shifting blame or making excuses, you may need to work on deflection. Take responsibility for your actions, own up to your mistakes, and acknowledge what the other person has to say. Instead of getting defensive, progress toward a long-term solution.