So many of life’s disagreements come down to poor communication. Why are people so bad at communicating with each other? Maybe they’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings, maybe they’re trying to sound smarter by using better vocabulary, or maybe they’re not quite sure what they want to say. Whatever the reason, here are some quick and easy tips to help you become a more effective communicator!
Less is More
The most common mistake people make is talking too much. Just say what you mean. And say it in as few words as possible.
|INSTEAD OF THIS….
|I was thinking maybe we’d try this new place for lunch today if you like Thai food, but we could also do pizza instead. Whatever you want. I’m fine either way. And if you don’t want to meet for lunch, that’s fine too.
|Want to try a new Thai place?
|I’m so sorry I’m late. We had to stop for gas on the way to school, and then my daughter told me she left her ballet bag at home so we had to go back and get it, and then I spilled coffee all over my shirt and had to change, and then I got stuck at a train crossing.
|I’m sorry I’m late.
None is More
Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all. I find this to be ESPECIALLY true when I’m criticizing the way my husband has done something. Just don’t say anything.
Use Statements, Not Questions
We all know people who do this. Maybe they think it sounds nicer or less harsh? It doesn’t. It sounds unclear and is likely confusing to the other person. Especially when you follow it up later with, “well I told you…” No you didn’t tell me! You asked.
|INSTEAD OF THIS….
|Is that what you’re wearing tonight?
|I don’t like that shirt.
|Do you really want to take the freeway at this time of day?
|I think you should go a different way.
|Are you sure you don’t mind giving my kid a ride to soccer?
|Thank you so much for the ride.
Mindreading is when you THINK you know what someone is thinking but you don’t actually know FOR SURE. It happens a lot in close relationships where you know the person very well, and you MIGHT be right about what he/she is thinking, but you might not. Misinterpreting people’s faces falls in this cateogry too.
Also watch out for incorrectly assuming other people can read your mind! You may be thinking “I really hope my husband gets up with the kids in the morning, so I can sleep late,” but he doesn’t know that. Then when you’re the one getting up in the morning, you’re mad! You can’t communicate too much! Sharing even the smallest details of your plans for the day can help prevent conflicts.