Here is a list I wrote in 2010 with communication tips. Enjoy!
1 – Make eye contact. Communication is much easier when you do. It helps with focus and also reading/sensing emotions.
2 – Stay focused and avoid distractions. Distractions and even wandering thoughts can interfere. They may feel like they are being ignored if you cannot focus. Also don’t try to speed up the conversation and look antsy to leave. They may think you are not interested in what they are saying.
3 – Talk alone in certain situations. Sometimes being around friends, family, or in public can make someone feel uncomfortable talking.
4 – Make more time to communicate with each other. The more you communicate efficiently, the more you will understand each other.
5 – Be open and honest. Hiding information can cause confusion and distrust.
6 – Try to see their side/perspective and have empathy. This greatly aids in understanding.
7 – Be compassionate. Avoid harsh judgments and criticizing. Try to be nice and don’t make them feel like they are being attacked or put on the spot. If they feel attacked, they may automatically go into defense mode and it will be harder to communicate.
8 – If you need to talk to them about something they did that you disagree on, say it in a way that isn’t an accusation. Instead of saying “you always…” or “you never…” you this or that, you can instead tell them how you felt when something occurred. For example, “I felt confused when you didn’t pay attention to me when I asked you something earlier.” They will respond better to this than saying, “why did you ignore me?” Stick to you and how you felt about it. When it is more about you, it is less about them and they feel less attacked. They will respond better and be less defensive this way. Also if you felt hurt about something, it may be best to first understand your hurt within yourself first in order to make sure it isn’t your own ego feeling bad about something it shouldn’t. No one can truly make you feel bad unless you allow it. There are cases when someone’s actions are inappropriate though, so in those cases it may be best to communicate to that person about their behavior.
9 – Sometimes it helps to communicate logically without judgment at all. It can help to open the other person up without feeling hurt or defensive feelings.
10 – If you don’t understand something, continue to clarify it until you are sure you do. If the other person feels closed and annoyed at the questions, try to be caring and let them know you truly want to listen. Also again try to put yourself in their shoes. They may not feel totally comfortable talking with you yet, but over time they may open up.
11 – Sometimes they just need to vent, so just being able to lend an ear can help. Sometimes they may be open to advice, sometimes not. Just stay aware and observe the situation to see what is needed.
12 – Always stay aware of your tone of voice and non-verbal communication. Your body movements and voice tone also say things. Watch yourself and your feelings so you don’t come off as rude or attacking. Also try to watch their non-verbal communication to get a better idea of how they are feeling as well.
13 – Don’t assume or jump to conclusions. Just listen, watch, be aware, and base information on facts. Make sure to communicate what you think you heard so you can confirm it with them. It is okay to form ideas based on what you feel and think about the situation, but don’t fully assume that those ideas are accurate. Confirm them with the other person.
14 – Know when it is a good time to talk. Sometimes talking about something right away is not the best option. It is better to find a good time to talk about it especially if you need time to vent frustrations first. Make sure you come to the conversation with a clear head and when built up emotions are mostly released. If needed, take deep breaths before speaking.
Remember and practice these tips, and you will enhance your communication and relationships.