How To Have Open CommunicationAug 05, 2022
Being able to communicate openly isn't as easy as you would think. We can use softer or prettier words to try and express ourselves to avoid triggering the other person. We can play down our emotions and reactions to either hide our vulnerability or focus on caring for someone else's emotions. We can also get so caught up in our emotions that we start releasing all of our thoughts and feelings to the point that we begin overwhelming the other person.
When we can communicate openly, we can start improving our relationships both, personal and professional, in a number of ways. Open communication increases trust, helps to bridge differences, and can ease stress.
So what can you do?
Ways to improve your communication
There are a few things that we can do when talking with someone to help have an open conversation.
Wait for the appropriate time and place
Be mindful of where and when you need to have a discussion with a partner, especially if you are having an important disagreement. Someone is not likely to be as open when communicating if you are surrounded by family or out in public. If this is a personal matter or argument, having an audience will probably make the other person more closed off and less likely to communicate with you effectively. That said, you also don't want to bottle in those feelings and wait a week or two before finally discussing what is bothering you. Have a discussion when both you and your partner are calmer, but while the topic is still relevant.
When emotions are high, it can be easy to be swept in those feelings and want to go back and forth to get all your points across. But this can make communication more difficult because we are so focused on our feelings and thoughts that we aren't able to focus on what we are needing to say. This also makes it difficult to really understand what the other person is telling us. Be patient and allow for silences that happen. Sometimes we need a minute to think and collect our thoughts, so we can accurately express them.
Take the time to listen to what the other person is saying. Ask questions if you need to and even reiterate what they said. This allows us to see if there is any misunderstanding and allows us the time to understand accurately. You don't need to agree with everything they say, but it is important to understand where they're coming from.
Part of having open communication is the ability to be honest with your thoughts and what your feeling. Sometimes we feel the need to sugarcoat our words to lessen the blow or even downplay how certain actions made us feel. This could be because we don't want to offend the other person or as a way to protect our vulnerability. Regardless, when we omit certain details or downplay our experience, we’re not able to openly communicate. You need to be able to be honest with your partner about your needs and your experiences. When we aren't honest, we run the risk of running into this same issue again and again.
Try to keep a calm voice
Emotions tend to get the better of us sometimes, and it is easy to raise our voices or talk with anger. It does help keep the communication going, especially when we are heated, to keep our voices calm and collected.
Hold back judgment
You want to keep judgment to yourself. This can be extremely difficult at the moment when we are deep in an argument, but expressing judgment on the other person at the beginning of a discussion is a quick way to get them to close off. With open communication, we want to get into the "why" and better understand where the other person is coming from. Withholding our judgment will also encourage the other person to keep the discussion going, so you’re hopefully closer to being able to resolve the issue.