Whether it is marriage, friendship, family or work. Every area of our life requires communication. What exactly is communication? I know we all think it is talking but is that all?
Just what is communication?
It is sharing with others our ideas, thoughts, feelings and, of course, news and events. It’s the back and forth conversation when we talk with our friends. The crying when we grieve and the smiling when we are happy. It’s the way we explain the goals of a new project to our team. We are all communicating all the time. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it.
Can you relate to this? You see your friend with her 2-year-old and, as you are chatting, another mom comes up and says something like, “Oh my, she doesn’t have any hair, my daughter, who is 2, has a head full.” You don’t SAY anything, or do you? Does rolling your eyes count? It sure does. You shared your thoughts, didn’t you? Yep, just non-verbally.
Yes, there are different types of communicating?
There are many ways to communicate. Obviously, verbal and non-verbal, but then you throw in the volume of your voice, the tone of your voice and how about body language. Now it gets complicated. I’m just going to talk about a few basics, so you have something to think about.
Talking to each other. Think about how we speak. The tone and volume of your voice can change the message.
Say out loud in your regular voice, “Would you be able to finish this report by tomorrow?” That sounds fine, not mean at all, just a regular question but..now say it LOUD. This time the question sounds like you are annoyed (or even mad) that the report isn’t finished yet and you are asking if it can be (as in, are you capable of finishing it) by tomorrow. Same question, different message.
We must be careful to be sure we are speaking in a way that conveys what we really want to say. I can give you the perfect example of something I do all the time. My husband will ask me a question, “Do you have a second to come and look at this?”. I answer, “Why, what is it?” Sounds innocent enough but since I am reading or getting ready to go out and don’t want to do it now because I’m busy, I use my snarky voice. I didn’t intend to, but it pops out. How does my husband, who is a very nice man, by the way, react? He says something like, “why can’t you talk to me nicely.” I didn’t intend to sound mean, but that is how it came across. I know that about myself and really have to work on it. No joke, every day! When I get frustrated, my tone is not very pleasant.
When we are mad at one person, many times, we will continue to sound mad at others. We need to take a few deep breaths and relax before we talk to others.
Here’s a non-verbal that is very common. We all need to be careful of looking all around when we are speaking to someone. If you are listening to someone, do it wholeheartedly. Don’t have your eyes looking past them to see what is happening down the hall. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and their phone pings then they start scrolling through their phone? “Hello, I’m right in front of you, and we are having a chat, but I guess you don’t care.” Now I understand if someone is waiting to hear test results or something important, but that is not usually the case. It is frustrating and not professional or kind.
How do we want to be seen?
How do you feel when someone you are speaking with is leaning towards you and making eye contact? You can tell they are paying attention and the conversation matters to them.
We do this with children. Think about it. When they are small, we stop, kneel or lean down and look them in the eye when they talk to us. We want them to know they are important, what they say is and that they are valuable (and precious) to us.
I don’t know about you, but I want others to know I value my time with them and what they say is important to me. I know I need to pay attention to my tone of voice (my poor husband really gets the most of that). I need to watch that I am truly paying attention and not distracted by other things going on around me when I am in a conversation with someone.
When someone values us enough to talk with us, that is an honor, and we need to understand that. Time is in short supply these days. Your friend could go to many others, but she chose you to spend her time with. You should be thrilled to pay attention to HER. At that moment, she needs to be the most important person.
We may be grown up now, but there is still the child in us that wants to feel important and valued.
What other things have you seen people do or have been done while you are talking that either made you feel good or of little value?
Leave a comment, so we can all learn. Each of us may do something that we don’t even realize until it is mentioned in a post or comment.