This Skill Builds Strong Relationships

It's not something that should come as a surprise: honing your communication skills will help you build stronger relationships. Ask couples who have been together for a long time and they will likely tell you that good communication is key to a successful relationship. It's not just romantic relationships that benefit from strong communication; relationships with friends, family members, and coworkers require communication to thrive.

If you lack communication skills, it's probably not that you don't want to communicate just may need some help. A recent Forbes article may be helpful. The author, Kathy Caprino, points out three specific concepts that may help improve communication skills and in turn, help you form stronger relationships.

  • Every word you communicate either supports your goals and allows you to communicate effectively or prevents understanding and connection.
  • Speaking with respect and compassion, rather than judgement or disdain, allows your listener to hear your words better.
  • Know your audience before communication - try and match their style and vocabulary.

Keeping these concepts in mind, Caprino suggests three ways to hone your communication:

1. Listen with a willingness to be changed by what you hear.

2. Before you speak forcefully about something, frame it with a value statement.

3. Meet the listener where they are and speak from an understanding of their needs and mindset.

Building stronger relationships requires a safe and trusting space. Here are a few ways to create this space.

  • Validating. Share validating statements that summarize the key emotions and experiences.
  • Don't ask "why." Why puts people on the defensive, so try "how" and "what" questions instead.
  • Openly share your commitment to maintaining a strong relationship.

In addition to stronger relationships, improved communication skills can also have a very positive impact on your career. Communication is evolving rapidly and as many as five generations will soon be working together in the same job market. Each generation has a unique and preferred method of communication. For example, most baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication. This may be due to the fact that many older boomers grew up during a time when very few people had or could afford telephones. By the time the younger boomers were growing up, telephones were more common but still expensive to use. It's worth noting that boomers due prefer speaking in person or even on the phone, but most studies show more than 90% actively use e-mail. 

Regardless, baby boomers may face challenges effectively communicating with employees of younger generations and should adapt their communication style accordingly. Here are some tips to communicate effectively across generations:

  • Get comfortable using multiple methods of communication, such as instant messaging, facetime, or texting.
  • Be willing to learn new communication methods. It seems new technology is driving new communication tools all the time. Embrace them. Take a class if you need to.
  • Don't take communication issues personally. Instead of getting frustrated or avoiding the issue, acknowledge the issues and get them out in the open. Businesses lose billions of dollars every year because of communication errors.












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