Communicating with others, whether with friends, family or coworkers, is not always easy, especially if you have different communication styles or views on any given subject. Misunderstandings can easily arise, leaving you feeling like you’re not being heard, taken seriously or are being unfairly criticized. To make your interactions go more smoothly, try to keep your emotions in check and use these tips:
Really listen to the person. Do so even if he or she is irritating or long-winded.
Avoid being judgmental and try to stay objective. Focus on the good and what they are doing right.
Show your respect and that you are open to the person’s opinion. Avoid frowning, looking away, rolling your eyes, or checking your cell phone if you don’t agree with someone’s opinion.
Don’t dominate the discussion, interrupt, or make speeches. Be patient and pause between your sentences, allowing others to collect their thoughts and express themselves. It can take longer for some people to put their thoughts into words.
Make comments that invite the other person to open up. You might ask, “What do you think about brainstorming about the project?” Or, “Does my idea make sense?”
Use “I” statements to frame your thoughts and opinions. For example, when discussing a hot button subject, you might say something like, “I’ve always found that…” This can help avoid putting the other person on the defensive.
If the dialogue is going in the wrong direction, take a moment. Consider if you’re doing anything to antagonize the other person. Are you being fair?
Find a way to end a discussion that’s going nowhere. You might say, “I see your point but we’ll have to agree to disagree. Or, “You bring up some interesting points, I’ll have to think about that.” Then make your exit with a smile.