You can probably think of at least one conversation in which you felt completely connected to the person you were talking with – and at least one conversation you left feeling dissatisfied because of a lack of understanding between you and the other person.
Although you can't guarantee that every conversation will be great, you can learn skills to make communication a bit easier and more satisfying. Even if you are already a good communicator, consciously thinking about what you do to communicate well can help you to improve your skills and use them even when you're upset or unsure of what to say.
This article covers some basic communication tips and strategies to improve your communication skills, as well as ideas to prepare for a particularly difficult conversation.
Key Ideas for Communication
What a conversation is like depends greatly on who is involved. Clearly, a conversation with your teacher tends to be very different than a conversation with your best friend. The other person (or people) in the conversation is your audience, and being conscious of your audience can remind you of your purpose.
While these words sound a bit like something you might hear in English class, keeping them in mind can help you focus on the important parts of a conversation.
For instance, consider the following conversation:
Teen: "Hey, can I go to Jamie's tomorrow night?"
Parent: "Will Jamie's parents be there? Who else will be there?"
One possible response is for the teen to get annoyed with the parent for asking questions; another is for the teen to answer the questions or explain more about why he or she wants to go to Jamie's house.
Most teens get frustrated with their parents; it's completely normal. However, it's also not particularly helpful when you're asking for permission to do something.
Keeping in mind his or her audience, the above teen might catch himself prior to responding with anger to the parent's questions. After all, the purpose of this conversation is obtaining permission to go to Jamie's house; refusing to answer the parent's questions is unlikely to elicit that permission, which defeats the purpose.
Paying attention to your audience and purpose doesn't mean you can't express your emotions, but it's a reminder to yourself about how to express those emotions in a positive and constructive manner.
Purpose may not matter as much when you're talking with a friend, but it can be important when you have a conversation and want to keep on track in order to lead to a specific point.
If you're worried about a particular conversation, remembering the purpose can help to deal with some of that anxiety and make the conversation easier.
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