"Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it, it dies." - Tony A Gaskins Jr.
Communication helps us to meet new people and provides us with the necessary skills needed to help build and sustain relationships with others. It gives us the confidence needed to interact with each other, and communicate our needs, wants, feelings and experiences to those around us. It is what deepens connections and keeps us connected. It prepares us for difficult social situations and gives us the skills needed for conflict resolution. It allows us a balance of being able to talk openly when needed, but also spotting when it is time to listen and it allows us the skills needed to adjust and compromise when faced with someone who has a different communication style to ourselves.
Five forms of effective communication are;
Verbal communication - Speaking to someone face-to-face, over the phone, via zoom or skype, etc. It is the specific words we speak to those around us and the message we are trying to exchange.
Nonverbal communication - This is what we don't declare verbally. Instead, we speak with our body, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, eyes, etc. It naturally exposes what we genuinely think or feel towards a person, their conversation, or the situation at hand.
Written communication - Email, social media, text messages, documents, etc. If done so incorrectly, it can inadvertently cause confusion, possible misinterpretation of one's message, possible embarrassment, and insult.
Visual communication - This is what we witness; be it on TV, social media, posters, magazines, etc. It is the visual communication that is translating a direct message to us via imagery. A beautiful image of a meal might tempt us to book a table. An image of a disaster might tempt us to donate.
Listening - Stopping and letting others speak, allows us to listen to others' needs, wants and feelings. It allows us to understand more about the person, situation, need, or task.
Who can read minds?
By avoiding social situations, we are negatively impacting our own mental health, further reducing our confidence and stunting our own communication skills. Thus making social situations appear more intense and more difficult than they actually are.
It is never too late!
Similar to what we touched on in our support systems installment; we aren't mindreaders. Nor were we born with communications skills. As with everything in life, we learn through our experiences, and they develop and build over time. Each interaction, each experience, each encounter, is another building block to our communication skills. We learn what to do better, or what not to do if we are ever in that situation, or conflict again, and it helps us build up more confidence. We cannot expect those around us to see us or hear us if we don't communicate. We also cannot expect to build or deepen relationships if we are shying away from social interaction.
You can start improving your communication skills without leaving the comfort of your own home! Now that seems a bit like a contradiction, doesn't it?! But if you are lacking in confidence, you can practice improving your own communication skills at home before you get out and start socialising. But don't take too long to do this at home, the best way to build confidence and skill is with real interaction.
Next week we will be touching on nonverbal communication, the impact it can have in social situations and how you can improve your nonverbal skills.
But before then, I want you to think about the following questions.
Do you interrupt?
Do you fidget when you feel shy or uncomfortable?
Do you look down or away when having a conversation with someone?
Do you have folded arms or legs when you speak to people?
Do you struggle to keep interest or attention when listening?
If you answered yes to any of these, then don't panic! We have the perfect installments to gently help transform you into a social butterfly!
Happy self-care Sunday everyone!