How to Communicate

It's easy to misread what people say. It's just as easy to be misunderstood. By communicating better, you can improve nearly every aspect of your life. 

  • Communication is about more than talking; it's about listening and considering. Be thoughtful when you speak.

  • Conversation is a skill, just like reading and writing. That means it can be learned with practice and attention.

  • Identify what you want to share about yourself. What topics are you comfortable discussing? Decide beforehand.

  • Stay informed. However you get the news (twitter trends or viral videos), remember interesting things you see.

  • Don't make assumptions. You might hate rap music, but others love it. Hold off on any polarizing topics at first.

  • Pay attention to what's not being said. Look at how the other person carries themselves and how they react.

  • Be open and honest. It's amazing how quickly little lies can lead to big ones. Keep it simple and tell the truth.

  • Be willing to learn from everyone. A bad social experience can help shape you just as easily as a good one.

  • True communication should be rewarding, interesting and engaging. So try to discuss more than just the weather.

  • Talk about subjects the other person is interested in. If they love talking about books, engage them on that subject.

  • Make sure to listen. It seems obvious, but you're not the only one talking. They should be contributing as well!

  • Say what you mean. Cut down on sarcasm and jokes unless you know the others you're speaking to will enjoy it.

  • “Recognizing power in another does not diminish your own.” Admit when you're wrong and move on.

  • Avoid passing judgement. It might seem like the others are attacking you, but wait and make sure before reacting.

  • Pretending everything is alright when it isn't doesn't help anyone. If you're upset, try to put the feeling into words.

  • Going to a social event? Think up some interesting topics and do research before you go, so you're confident.

  • Ask open-ended questions. Not only does it prove you're listening, but it might help you continue the conversation.

  • Don't force yourself to have a deep conversation right away. Take time to get to know each other.

  • Consider your attitude. If you really care about the conversation, ignore your phone and other distractions.

  • Know that you don't have to tell the best stories or be the funniest person to be the best conversationalist.

  • Be respectful. Sometimes conversations take a turn towards arguments. Take a breath and refocus yourself.

  • Entering a new conversation? Follow the flow for a while first before butting in to avoid ill-timed jokes.

  • Give your partner time to work through their thoughts as well. We're all learning; don't expect them to be perfect.

  • When making big decisions, try to disconnect from your emotions. Big decisions should be thought out logically.

  • Stop trying to 'win' arguments. Be willing to admit where you are wrong and notice when you go on the offensive.

  • Always deliver bad news in person. It's difficult to be sure, but shows you still care and are supportive.

  • Sometimes it's okay not to talk. True communication doesn't always have to happen in words.

  • Look up some research on body language and learn to read it. Try to keep it in mind as well when you're chatting.

  • Keep eye contact, but don't be afraid to blink or look away from time to time. Staring is worse than not looking at all.

  • Make sure you aren't in someone's space when you talk to them. Many people get uncomfortable without a buffer.