Communication - How getting it wrong can ruin relationships

Nina Taylor_
Company director/trainer/coach
Taylormade Training & Coaching Ltd
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 A friend recently announced that she had met someone else and was leaving her husband.  A massive ripple of shock ran through their circle of friends as nobody had realised that they were having problems and that she was unhappy.  She claimed that they had problems that she had tried to talk to him about, however nothing had changed.

This highlighted to me that communication is not just about the words that we use, but how we say them.  Its also about checking whether the message we want to give is the same as the one being received.  In my friend's case, this apparently wasn't the case if he hadn't understood how serious she was about wanting the situation to change!

Effective communication only occurs if the receiver exactly understands what the sender means.   If we don't communicate an issue well enough, or the person receiving it doesn't value the importance of it, then communication is lost.  And sometimes,  by leaving things to fester, resentment sets in and can cause a breakdown in the relationship, which, in some cases, can be irretrievable.  Anyone who has been through a relationship breakdown, or who has had a difficult relationship with a colleague or boss, will be able to testify to that!

So, in order to successfully strengthen relationships, personal or business, through communication, here are some top tips:-

If you are giving a message:-

  • Make sure your body language and tone are in sync with the message you are giving.  If you try and joke about a 'problem', is it any wonder they don't take it seriously?
  • Think  about the message before you open your mouth - what do you want to say, what do you want to achieve by saying it?
  • Consider the other person and how they might receive your message - how can you discuss the issue constructively and without the other person getting defensive?
  • Use specific examples rather than sweeping generalisations and ask the other person to consider how they would feel in that situation, how they would interpret it or how they can help you understand why they do that?
  • Check that the other person understands what you are saying by asking questions
  • Summarise your key points
  • Be open and honest - and be clear about the message you want to give
  • Listen to any responses and be prepared to work together towards a solution, or compromise
  • If you make a promise, follow it through
  • Talk about the positives as well and not just the negatives
If you are receiving the message:-
  • Listen actively - paraphrase  your understanding to clarify that you are hearing what they are saying - and don't interrupt
  • Watch for the body language and tone matching the message - and display your own positive body language and tome to show that you are interested in what they are saying
  • Ask questions to clarify points and acknowledge your part in any issues
  • Work together towards solutions
  • Don't allow yourself to get defensive - allow the other person to finish talking, take a breath, THEN plan your response carefully (not while they are still talking) - state your reply clearly & concisely
  • If you make a promise, follow it through
  • Learn to communicate properly on a regular basis - discussing positives as well as negatives

Follow these tips and all your relationships should get stronger.

What difficult conversations have you been avoiding or handling badly up till now?  What are you going to do now to improve the situation?

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