By Ritvi Ranka
Having good communication with your friends, family, and significant others will help establish longer-lasting and more effective relationships. When people fight, their conflict can often be attributed to a lack of communication and not hearing either side out properly. But fear not! There are multiple things you can do to establish stronger connections. Here are some of my ideas that can help improve your communication skills:
1. Active Listening. Being able to hear each other out properly will help you better see both sides of the story. This will take away the possibility of having misunderstandings or miscommunications because you will be gauging both perspectives. When I had a falling out with a friend, I remember being hurt, anxious, scared and really angry about the reason that my friend and I had fought. I decided to not talk to her for weeks and gave her the silent treatment. Soon after, however, I came to realize that might not have been the most effective way to deal with our fight. After about 3-5 weeks of no communication, I decided to break the silence and have a conversation with her. I soon understood her side of the story and realized that I was partly to blame for this falling out. We had a healthy conversation about our perspectives, were able to learn from each other, and re-evaluate our friendship. Through effectively communicating with one another, we were able to discuss our problems and strengthen our bond going forward.
2. Having trust and honesty with your friends to rely on each other in times of need is of utmost importance. Being able to fully trust your friends with anything strengthens your relationships. Without trust, it will be harder for your bond to thrive and be successful. Trust is known to be the faith and courage you have in someone who you know will stay loyal to you and your feelings. Furthermore, trust is when you are comfortable with opening up to a person about your vulnerabilities and you truly feel safe when you are around them.
3. Having patience and being respectful allows the other person to feel comfortable around you and makes it easier for them to confide in you. In all of my friendships, I try my best to show that I care. Whether it means that I stay focused in our deep conversations or let them rant to me for as long as they need, so that they can get over something, I constantly make an effort to be a good shoulder to lean on. Checking in on your friends every now and then to see if they are doing well or just need someone to talk to is a good communication skill to have in your day-to-day life. Being mindful of each other’s thoughts and showing empathy is also always very important.
4. Be open-minded and not judgmental. The last thing you want is for someone to rudely tell you that they dislike certain choices you have made. After taking a monumental action, you don’t want your closest friend making you feel bad and unsupportive about your decision. For example, although this may seem small, a few years ago I bought a dress for my eighth grade graduation and felt so pretty while wearing it. I felt like a queen, but after a friend told me that I looked “extra” or like a “disco ball”, I made the executive decision to never wear it again. This was because my closest friend told me I looked “bad” in clothing that I felt confident in. Different people react differently to situations and opinions. For some people who are sensitive, a comment made by you might hurt them to the core while others might just laugh it off. So having that discretion helps us in a huge way. Sometimes, keeping harsh opinions to yourself can greatly help a relationship. Also, if you feel the need to be vocal, think about how you can better convey your thoughts in a manner that isn’t hurtful.
Just know that your relationships are a vital part of your life and truly shape you as a person. With that in mind, keep practicing empathetic and effective communication with those you meet because healthy interactions are beneficial for everyone. As a final note, remember to treat people the way you want to be treated as this will allow you to continually build stronger and longer-lasting relationships.