What’s Your Point?
How to Communicate More Effectively
We all want to be heard. Whether it’s at work, at home, at school, or with our friends, we want to feel that our opinions are valued and that the people around us understand us. The deep desire to be heard is part of the human experience.
Unfortunately, miscommunication is also part of the human experience! Sometimes it can be difficult to get our message across clearly, especially when people have different opinions or when emotions are running high. Here are a few tips to help you walk away from your next conversation feeling more heard.
Know Your Audience
Who you’re talking to makes a big difference in how you present your message. After all, you communicate differently with your kids than with your boss! Before you start an important conversation, take a few moments to consider your audience. Are you talking to someone who likes their conversations to be direct and to the point or someone who prefers deeper context or a little storytelling? Does your audience value face-to-face communication or do they prefer email? Are they already familiar with the topic you want to discuss or will you be introducing them to a new concept? Thinking about who you’re communicating with will help you determine how to communicate best.
Pick the Right Time to Talk
Timing really is everything! Miscommunication can happen much more easily if a conversation is rushed or if either party is frustrated or angry. In order to make sure your message is truly heard, you need to find the right time to talk. Try to schedule important conversations so that everyone has ample time to voice their opinions. And if emotions are high – say, after disagreeing with a co-worker during a meeting or arguing with your partner about finances – take some time to cool off before re-engaging in the conversation.
Speak to Educate, Not Convince
It can be tempting to want to sway people’s opinions and convince them that we are right. But the truth is that conversations don’t always end up with everyone concurring – and that’s okay! What’s more important is that you and the person you’re talking to both walk away feeling heard. That is what builds strong relationships and helps people work together even when they disagree. Try to look at conversations as an opportunity to educate someone about your thoughts, perspective, and feelings rather than as a chance to strongarm them into agreeing with you.
Practice Active Listening and Give the Benefit of the Doubt
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to get your own point across is to listen to the other person’s first. Active listening is a key communication tool that can help make every conversation more effective. Make eye contact, don’t interrupt, and paraphrase their points to show that you understand.
In addition, try not to go into a conversation assuming you know what the other person thinks or how they will react. This is particularly important if it’s a sensitive topic! Instead, give them the benefit of the doubt and go in with an open mind.
Focus Less on What You Say and More on How You Say It
While it’s important to know what you want to say, you also need to pay attention to how you say it. The way we approach a conversation can ultimately determine how that conversation goes. Think about it – you’re more likely to listen to and engage with someone who looks you in the eye and speaks calmly than with someone who sounds combative and stands there with their arms crossed. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues like eye contact, posture and body language, and tone, because they can sometimes matter even more than the words you say.
Of course, the actual words you say also matter! Try to use “I language.” Starting sentences with things like “You should” or “You need to” can cause the other person to become defensive and lead the conversation to break down. Instead, use statements such as “I believe” or “I need.” This will help reduce the chances of the other person feeling attacked and lead to more constructive conversation.
Getting your message across can feel hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be! Adopt just a few of these tips, and soon you’ll be feeling more heard and valued at work and at home.
WORKPLACE SOLUTIONS is a group of dedicated professionals who provide assistance and resources to individuals and families to create a satisfying and meaningful life. We’re counselors, attorneys, financial professionals, and experienced specialists in a wide variety of fields. Because life’s challenges and opportunities show up in a range of different areas, we provide assistance in a number of different ways.