Communicating with others is one of the most important ways of developing relationships with people. Most people take communicating for granted and just practice the skills they naturally have that often reflect the tools their birth family used. Occasionally the tools we gleaned from childhood are excellent, but much more often they are lacking clarity and empathy, hurting those they most want to connect with.
Good communication falls under something referred to as Emotional Intelligence, or EQ. Different from the well known IQ, the EQ tends to actually be more important in developing relationships both at work and at home. The specific definition of EQ is: The ability to be aware of, control and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships empathetically. Here's where good communication is vital.
Improving Communication is actually easy given the time and space to practice some simple tools. Here are some tools to use to easily accomplish this goal:
Begin by knowing exactly what you want to accomplish in a situation that needs to be communicated. What is the desired outcome? How do you want the other person to feel? What do you want to know? When we imagine how we want a communication to go (or expect it to go), we will often, even subconsciously move in that direction.
Communicate when you are calm. Communicating something that was upsetting or irritating when we are still upset (or irritated) is often likely to lead us to feeling even more upset because other's will often mirror the feelings that we are expressing. When we are upset, other's will often respond feeling that they must protect themselves and then respond with defensiveness which can lead to you feeling unheard. After we have processed any intense feelings, we are able to hold space and communicate with more empathy and kindness, which tends to improve relationships.
Breath Deeply. Breath allows us to keep our nervous system calm thus expressing that calmness. We must remember that for many of us communicating comes with a number of tense unconscious memories of troubling communication patterns with family. Therefore, we can begin to breath in a shallow manner causing a fight or flight response in our body and lending to more tension than is useful. Our slow deep breath lets our nervous system know we are safe and we will project that same feeling to those with whom we are communicating.
Have good Eye Contact with the person you are communicating something to or with. This does not mean stare them down with intensity, but often when communicating is difficult people will often look elsewhere in the room to avoid the overstimulation of the interaction. When this happens, the message being sent is actually one where it appears that the person communicating appears to be avoiding a real connection. The eyes are considered the doorway to the Soul, so use them to allow your truth to be heard.
Practice ahead of time with whatever you want to communicate. Often writing it down and then practice reading it from the paper will allow you to become comfortable with what you are trying to say. When we have more confidence in what we are saying, we tend to relax more and have more access to greater degrees of empathy and calm.
Communication comes easier to some than to others, but practicing these few tools will allow you to grow greater and greater comfort in this arena. Although I wouldn't say practice makes perfect... I would say "practice definitely makes better".