5 Communication Tips to Strengthen Relationships
Communication is the key to a strong and healthy relationship with friends, family or intimate partners. Here are 5 tips to keep communication strong and productive!
- Smile while you talk: Smiling while you talk can help the other person know that you enjoy the conversation and where it is going. Smiling is a delicate balance – you don’t want to be ingenuous by smiling through the entire conversation but you also don’t want to not smile enough and send the message that you don’t like the person. Smile at the beginning and end of a conversation and when it feels natural to do so, and you will look and feel confident.
- Make eye contact: Eye contact is another balancing act, you don’t want to continue eye contact when its not natural to do so and come off aggressive. Make eye contact whenever someone else is talking or if you are talking to the person. If there is a natural break in conversation or you are thinking about what to say next, it is natural to look away but try to avoid looking away or down at the floor or at your phone while someone else is talking to you.
- Ask questions more than you state your opinion: This one is very important. It’s easy to get carried away with our own wants and needs but it can easily sway the conversation toward being too one-sided. Make sure you take a pause every few minutes to ask the person about themselves, their opinion on the subject or to change the subject in their direction by asking questions that start with, ‘what are your thoughts about…’, or ‘I’d love to hear more about your…’.
- Ask open-ended questions: Open-ended questions are questions that can’t be answered with one word, such as ‘yes, no or I dunno’. Try thinking ‘tell me more…, how was… and share about…’ as prompts. For example, ‘Tell me more about your trip last week- I’d love to hear about it.’ Another example of an open ended question is, ‘How that project at work you were working on last week? Can you share how it went?’
- Repeat back what you heard them say: This is known as ‘active listening’. When you repeat back what you are hearing them say, or your interpretation of what they said, this helps not only validate that you understand what they are trying to say, but it can also clear up any miscommunication if you are interpreting the message in a way other than the person intended it. This takes some practice, but is extremely helpful.
Amanda Pratt, LCSW