How to Be a Better Communicator

My journal flipped to a prayer I’d written earlier that year. “Lord, please help me become a better communicator.” I laughed out loud. I’d just poured my frustrations into my journal after another wearisome attempt to connect with my roommate. God’s answer to my prayer was not what I’d imagined.

My online dictionary says communication is “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.”

When I wrote my prayer, I envisioned instant connection and understanding. Instead of soft violin strings, I got clashing cymbals. She didn’t get me or seem to value my feelings. Far from the instant satisfaction I’d pictured, I realized becoming a better communicator takes effort—and patience.

Miscommunication happens, even in the best of families and relationships. We drop an innocent comment, and our spouse or child stiffens or withdraws. We react in kind. What just happened?

Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and ask, “What did you hear me say?” This provides an opportunity to clarify what we meant or didn’t mean or apologize.

Other times we need to ask ourselves what we heard that caused us to bristle at our loved one’s comment. Misinterpretation creates misunderstanding.

An interchange includes taking turns. If one person talks 90% of the time, you may want to try a more regimented approach when negotiating sticky topics so both feel heard and valued. I don’t remember the source of the speaker/listener technique below. But if you’re stuck, try it. Like learning a new dance, we must practice our steps so we don’t step on our partner’s toes.

If one person talks 90% of the time, you may want to try a more regimented approach when negotiating sticky topics so both feel heard and valued. #communication, #kindness Click To Tweet

Speaker/Listener Approach

Some people find it helpful to hold an object. It can be something as simple as a pen or card. Some use a piece of carpet to acknowledge who has the floor. Only the one holding the “floor” can talk. That person can only share a few sentences at a time while the other intently listens. Then the speaker gives their partner the object signifying it’s their turn to speak.

The partner holding the floor relays what he heard. Limit exchanges to sound bites. Otherwise, the listener won’t be able to repeat back what was shared. After summarizing what they heard, they return the carpet.

Practice to Be a Better Communicator

Wife: “You’re so inconsiderate. You never call to say you’ll be late for dinner.” Wife hands object to husband.

Husband: You think I never call to tell you when I’m running late and view me as very inconsiderate.” He returns the object.

Wife: “Well, sometimes you call, but lately you seem to run late a lot. It frustrates me to plan to serve a hot meal and you show up late. Besides, I worry something has happened to you.”

Husband: “My being late shows disrespect for the time and effort you gave to serve me a hot meal. And it causes you to worry.”

Wife: “Yes.”

Husband: “I’m very sorry. I didn’t realize how my running late affected you. Please forgive me. I’ll try to do better. Can I tell you what happened this last week that impacted my tardiness?”

Conclusion

Communication is an art and a skill that can be learned. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t flow with ease. Making the effort to articulate our thoughts and feelings says I trust you. Editing our words so as not to wear out the listener says I respect you.

Whether we need to practice listening or expressing ourselves, the effort is worth it. We grow in character and the one we’re with feels heard and valued. Stay tuned. Next week we’ll look at six more ways to beome a better communicator.

Comment here.

Blessings,

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InspireMeMonday, #InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory, #Let’sHaveCoffee#Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Barbara Latta

    Communication is an art we can continue to perfect during our lifetime. Thanks for these strategies and examples, Debbie.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Barbara, I agree that it is a lifelong process. Thanks so much.

  2. Ann J Musico

    Communication is a big part of the foundation of every relationship, including with God. Great tips.

  3. Debbie W. Wilson

    Ann, I like how you relate it to our relationship with God!

  4. Joanne Viola

    We often think of communication as the words we speak to others. It also includes being a good listener, and I appreciate that you included listening. At times, I think we are losing our ability to listen to others, to truly hear what they are conveying. It is so worth our efforts to become better at both speaking and listening. I’m looking forward to the next week!

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Joanne, it is heartbreaking that we seem to talk at each other instead with one another. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  5. J.D. Wininger

    Much of my career was spent leading ad hoc groups in time-constrained activities that we “outside of their comfort zone.” As my ability to communicate EFFECTIVELY grew, so did my ability to lead more easily and the results demonstrated it. As far as learning to communicate effectively at home, I’m still on Mars. 🙂 Some days anyway. Great post with some important skills to learn and employ. Well done Ms. Debbie.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      J.D., I think home is often our biggest challenge. 🙂

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    My word for 2023 was listening. I am working on better communication for this year. Thanks for your insights Debbie.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Good word, I think for all of us. Thank you, Yvonne.

  7. Linda Stoll

    Debbie, this is so helpful –> ‘Misinterpretation creates misunderstanding.’ Sometimes we’re just to quick to react rather than taking a breath and thoughtfully responding. Thanks for pointing us in that direction.

    Bless you.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      God bless you, Linda!

  8. Lisa notes

    “Making the effort to articulate our thoughts and feelings says I trust you.” Great statement, Debbie. May we each learn to listen better, to talk kinder, and spread more love in this world as we learn to trust each other more and more.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      Amen. Well said, Lisa.

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