Do you often have difficulty expressing your thoughts?
Do you worry that the way you communicate might be harming your friendships?
I felt the same, and I knew that I had to change something about my communication when I noticed these warning signs:
too many misunderstandings with friends
uncomfortable, stressful moments
talking more than listening
In time, I found 3 effective ways that helped me become a clearer, more effective communicator who can more easily connect with my friends!
1. Share your thoughts
When I started to hit bumps during one of my friendships, the first thing I had to admit to myself was that even though I felt we could talk about everything, the reality was that we didn't.
Why? Because I thought the other person should know me so well that they could find out what my thoughts were. But people aren't mind readers, right?
I found these practices helpful:
Tell each other as simply and as clearly as possible what you like or dislike
Ask deep questions to get to know each other better
Consider learning to journal, which will help you express yourself more easily
Make sure you have realistic expectations for the friendship
2. Actively listen to your friend
I had more information about my friend, but it still wasn't enough. I had to actively listen to her without judgment, understanding her thoughts and concerns.
Here's what I did:
Practiced non-verbal behaviors such as leaning in, nodding, making eye contact
Kept notes using a note-taking appafter having a difficult conversation
Asked for feedback at the end of a conversation by asking something like "I understood xyz. Can you correct me if I'm wrong?"
Read articles about active listening, such as this Byte: How can I be an active listener?
Nora realizes that she needs to improve her communication with her friend Jessica because they've had more and more misunderstandings lately. She starts with her active listening skills. What is the BEST active listening practice that she should do?
3. Pay attention to body language
After sharing my thoughts and practicing my listening skills, a comment from my friend made me realize that my verbal and non-verbal communication sometimes didn't match.
For instance, when I said, " Yes, I'm happy to do the dishes more," in reality, my face was showing the opposite of happiness.
To be more aware of your facial expressions and body language:
Practice mindfulness, which will help you achieve stressless communication
Read articles about verbal and non-verbal communication to gain the knowledge you might need
Get into the habit of noticing other people's body language that'll help you to adjust yours
Practice your body language in front of the mirror to get into the habit of listening to your body
Improving your communication in any relationship is essential. It takes time, patience, and constant work, but it always has to involve both parties so you can both have a friendship that has a positive impact on your lives.
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