Jan 12, 2017
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Communication: It’s Not Just What You Say!

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“Hello,” the class said in unison.

“Great,” praised our Acting 1 instructor. “Now once more; this time, be surprised!”

“Hello?!” my classmates and I said as a few of us raised our hands to our chests.

“Like you just walked in to a Starbucks and saw the one who broke your heart years ago.”

“…Hello…” we responded.

“Like you’re meeting your favorite celebrity.”

"H-he-hello!"

“Like you just saw the person who stole a thousand dollars from you.”

“HELLO.”

“And…neutral.”

“Hello.”

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To most of my classmates, this was just a simple acting exercise to show us the power of emotion behind words.

“It’s not just the sounds you make,” our instructor would explain. “It’s the intent behind them.”

To me, however, this memory became a moment that I would take with me forever in my personal life and relationships.

It’s the intent behind them.

So what does this mean? It’s all about communication. Communication isn’t just talking- it’s an art, and it takes time to really hone those skills. Communication is partly about talking, yes, but it’s also about listening and being mindful of the message you’re sending out to others, whether with your words or without.

We all remember fighting with our siblings and our parents making us apologize, right? We’d say, “Sorry,” as half-heartedly as we could while rolling our eyes. Sure, we spoke the words required by our parents to get back to playtime, but did we mean it? No. How do we know? Because of the intent- in this case, the tone of voice and the body language.

If this concept was so simple as children, why have so many of us lost it as we’ve grown older?

It can be difficult for a lot of reasons- but I’ve found that it’s mostly just because we aren’t aware of how we sound or act. (And if we are, we may be too proud to apologize, but we’ll save that for another blog!) Good communication is crucial to a healthy relationship. In fact, it won't survive without it! So here are a few Dos and Don’ts to ensure we are communicating in a healthy way with our partners:

  • Stay off your phone while they're talking to you
  • Look at them when they're speaking
  • Keep your body facing them
  • Nod or give affirmations as they're speaking to show you understand
  • Let them finish their entire thought
  • Speak in a respectful tone
  • Use "I" statements instead of "You" statements ("I feel like we haven't seen each other much lately" vs. "You always go out with your friends and don't care about me."
  • Ask the other person what you can do to make them feel supported
  • Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply
  • Speak to them like they're a priority
  • Interrupt them
  • Roll your eyes
  • Sigh heavily or throw your hands in the air when they're trying to speak
  • Fold your arms while they're talking
  • Text or scroll through IG while they're talking
  • Turn your body and face away from them
  • Make assumptions
  • Raise your voice
  • Use sarcasm
  • Speak down to them like they're "dumb" or "can't understand"
  • Use any forceful body language (slamming cabinets, rushing them out the door, etc.)

Here's a bonus! Check out this video from Xandra Ooi on the importance of speaking with a kind tone- it's not just what you say, it's how you say it! (TAP Edit: In the beginning, Xandra says "opposite sex" before switching to "him or her." While we love Xandra's communication message, we want our friends at TAP to know the appropriate language would be gender neutral and inclusive!)

Article Categories:
Healthy Relationships

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