Communication skills – seven simple steps

Juliette Smith Advice, Communication, Couples, Other Relationships

Improving communication skills is invaluable to all relationship success

People often assume that if there is a mis-communication, the responsibility lies with the person speaking. But communication involves both the conveying and receiving of a message, so speaker and listener have a joint responsibility for making communication work.

Here are seven steps you can take towards improving your communication skills

1. Be clear on your objective and stay on point

If you can, agree the objective with the other person, and share responsibility for staying focused. Going off on a tangent leads to confusion and dissatisfaction. Include “building this relationship” as a focus too.

If other subjects come up, make a note and come back to these later.

2. Express yourself respectfully

Telling someone how you feel is very different from attacking them with the feelings. Use “I” rather than “you”.

Ensure what you are saying is congruent with your non-verbal communication. If your words are inconsistent with your body language and emotions, you’ll come across as not being fully honest.

3. Replace criticism with a request

When you want someone to do something differently, avoid criticism and accusation. Otherwise what you say is likely to result in a defensive response rather than a change in behaviour.

If you want a change, make a clear request (not a demand) and when it is honoured, say “thank you”.

4. Listen!

Good listening skills are essential for good communication.

If you’re planning your response, judging what the other person is saying, or your mind is on something else, you’re not truly listening. Listen to how the person is speaking as well as to what they are saying.

5. Use feedback

Tell the speaker what you’ve heard and how you’re interpreting it, so you can check you are hearing and understanding correctly.

6. Empathise

Try seeing things from another’s point of view – even if you don’t agree with them. Imagine what it’s like to be and feel like them.

7. Replace BUT with AND

Find the value in what the other person has said and tell them what you like about it (even if it’s only a small part). Build on their ideas by using “AND”, not “BUT”.  BUT minimises what was said before it.

Try any or all of these and see how simple it is to improve your communications skills, quickly and effectively.

If you would like to read more Relationship Advice articles, you can find further reading in my Relationship Advice section. Alternatively, if you’d like to book an appointment to discuss building your relationship further, or dealing with a Relationship in Crisis please call me on 0800 612 8415, or contact me here.