Never underestimate the importance of effective communication skills. In your head, you might have everything figured out but what’s the point of that if you don’t communicate what you’re thinking? And if you choose to communicate your thoughts, what’s the use of sharing them if you can’t communicate them clearly?
Many times in life, a simple misunderstanding leads to a lot of conflict, and the sad thing is that lots of times the conflict is unintentional and people are oblivious to the fact that they are contributing to the problem by not communicating clearly. Many people are familiar with the game “Telephone,” in which a message is passed along a line of people, and the time it reaches the last person it’s hilariously distorted. It might be an oversimplified and primitive version of real-life communication, but it gives an example of how ineffective communication can make things go really wrong. Therefore, effective communication skills are essential to making things go right.
In real-life, it might not as easy to fix the problem as it could theoretically be in “Telephone,” in which all you have to do speak louder, but it is possible to improve your communication skills. Effective communication skills take into account what you say, how you say it, why you say it, where you say it, when you say it, and who you’re saying it to. It might be cliché but it really is helpful to think before you speak, and when you decide to speak your thoughts, you want to do it in a way that doesn’t alienate who you’re talking to. When choosing what to say, think of what is necessary, since some things are better left unsaid.
You also might want to adjust depending on who it is—some people like you to tell it like it is, while others need you to be sensitive and supportive. If you’re trying to resolve a conflict, it’s good to use “I” statements because you know what you’re thinking, but not necessarily what the other person thinks. Don’t presume to know their point of view—the whole point of conflict resolution is to clear a misunderstanding, so you should each present your perspective, and then work things out. In terms of understanding the other person’s perspective, effective communication skills also include the ability to be a good listener. It’s important to be a good listener since communication goes both ways.
Knowing how to communicate effectively can benefit you in all aspects of life because communication is such an important part of daily living, whether you’re dealing with interpersonal relationships, business transactions, and basically any interaction in which an exchange is involved. After brushing up on your communication skills, you’ll find that life goes so much smoother when people understand each other and get along.