Five Tips for Clear Communication
These five tips for clear communication can help you navigate your way through a family gathering without getting stuck in conflict. For most people, the holidays can be a time of anxiety. Family gatherings can cause people stress if communication is an issue among family members.
Tip 1: Actively Listen
Most conflict occurs because people do not listen to each other. People usually are listening to respond instead of listening to learn. How often have you waited patiently for someone to finish speaking so that you can say your piece? Most of us are guilty of this practice. It is so prevalent that you have to really focus to simply listen to what the other side is saying. In order to actively listen, you have to give your undivided attention to the speaker. Put aside your texts, your unanswered e-mails, and any side conversations with others. Just listen to what the speaker is saying. A good litmus test to see if you have successfully listened to someone else is to see if you can repeat back everything that they said to you accurately. After they have spoken, you can repeat it back by starting off with, “So what I understand is that…” and then mirror back what you heard.
Tip 2: No judgment
Judgment is one of the worst things that you can bring to a conversation. It kills communication. Think back to a time when you felt that you were being judged. The other person may not have said or done anything towards you, but you just felt judged. In that same way, when you judge someone else, they will definitely feel it. It will affect your tone, your attitude, the choice of words you use, and your body language. Judgment will definitely hamper a conversation and it will not encourage the other person to open up to you and be vulnerable to you. Even if the person you are speaking with has diametrically opposed values and beliefs, you can still suspend your judgment and move into a conversation that is vulnerable and curious.
Tip 3: Be Curious
Genuine curiosity can be felt by the other person. If you are curious about what makes them tick, why they believe what they do, they are much more likely to open up to you. If you are asking questions with judgment sitting directly behind your questions, your questions will feel loaded and the speaker will not feel comfortable answering your questions. Curiosity really breeds deep communication. Be curious, ask questions.
Tip 4: Ask Questions
Again, without judgment, ask curious and open-minded questions. If they bring up a topic, dive deep into the subject matter. So often, people drop tips and hints, but no one latches on to those hints to find out more. The more deeply you can ask questions, the more you get to know someone. The more you can know them, the closer the connection.
Tip 5: One Issue at a Time
Finally, make sure you only tackle one issue at a time if you happen to run into conflict. All too often, people mistakenly put a second or third issue into the same conversation. By doing this, you ensure that you will not resolve anything at all. If the other person brings up additional topics, a good way to handle it is to say something like, “If that is important for you, we can definitely discuss it. Let’s finish this discussion first and then we can discuss that.” You can even write it down to show that you are sincere in your promise to discuss it later. More often than not, the other person is merely bringing it up to derail the current topic and not because they really want to discuss it.
If you can attend holiday parties and family reunions with an open heart and open mind, you will be more successful in achieving a harmonious gathering. Keep judgment out of the conversation, listen deeply, and be curious. These are the tenets of great communication and negotiation. If you feel you need some coaching before you head out to holiday celebrations, consider negotiation and communication coaching.