I thought I would write a blog on better communication, since I have noticed that most people struggle to be heard or really understood and can walk away from a conversation feeling frustrated and alone. The unfortunate part is as children we were not taught how to have a "deep" conversation and what that really looks like and feels like. Some of us were told to be quiet and only speak when spoken to. Others were not giving a filter to conversations. And most of us were told to share our stories as someone is sharing theres, what looks like a tennis match of story telling where no one is really listen, just wanting for their turn to share.
Here are my 5 Steps to better communication and deeper conversations.
Step 1 - Listen
The biggest thing I see is no one's listening. You talk, I talk, You talk, I talk. There is no engagement, just waiting to talk about you. The biggest gift you can give someone is giving them your full attention and really listening to what they are actually saying. Through the listening you are getting to know the person at a deeper level through their life experiences, relationships, who they are and what they are about. And through conscious listening you may find out things that you both have in common that you were not aware of.
Step 2 - Ask Questions
As you are truly listening to a person share their "story" this is the time to ask questions for better understanding. By asking questions you can one, make sure you are understanding what they are attempting to communicate and two, you show you are interested in what they have to say. You can ask questions on how that made them feel about the given situation. You can ask about specifics to what they are talking about to get the full picture. The secret is to ask enduring and caring questions not questions that make them feel on the defense or attacked.
Step 3 - Distract come back
When you are having a conversation with someone and you distract onto a story about you, hopefully in regards to something similar they said, be brief then return back to their story. I have seen so many times where someone is talking then the other person interrupts them with a 10 minute story about them never returning to the other person's story for completion. It's okay to briefly add something of similar value, but not okay to detour to you before someone is finished talking.
Step 4 - Be Present
Being present is giving someone your full attention, while they are talking. Turn off your phone or put it away when you are with someone. Make eye contact with the person and show them you are fully engaged in the conversation with them. Pay attention and give the person in front of you, your time and respect. They have something just as important to say and want to be heard as well.
Step 5 - Create a Safe Environment to Share
People need to feel safe when they are sharing about themselves, make sure you are creating that space for them. Key signs someone does not feel safe is when they attack back, get defensive, or withdrawal from the conversation. When you see any of these signs during your conversation the person you are talking to is feeling unsafe. Before you can come back to a conversation you have to create safe for them. So you check in with them and ask I noticed you got quiet did I say something that upset you? Or I noticed your energy has shifted what happened? Be compassionate, a lot of times it may not have anything to do with you, it could be a past trigger of not feeling heard or being attacked by someone. If you care about this person take the time to be sensitive to their feelings and notice when the environment of communication has taken a turn and bring it back to safe. They will appreciate it and you will gain a deeper understanding and level of trust with this person.
I hope this helps you have better conversations and deeper connections.