There’s no mandatory course in school on how to become an impactful communicator.
Yes, we’re taught the basics of language, the nuances of grammar, and perhaps we even delve into a few classic works of literature that showcase eloquent dialogue.
But when it comes to navigating the intricate labyrinth of human communication, most of us are left to our own devices. This often leads to a messy process of trial and error, with the scale tipping more towards error.
A significant issue is that many detrimental communication habits are deeply ingrained in our society. We’re taught to value assertiveness over understanding, to prioritize speaking over listening, and to prize individual viewpoints over collective consensus.
These tendencies encourage us to treat conversations as competitions, where the goal is to win arguments rather than foster connections. Consequently, we often end up alienating others instead of building meaningful relationships.
This is why we need to reevaluate and unlearn many of the communication habits we’ve come to accept as normal. We should aim instead at cultivating practices that are more empathetic and effective.
Such concepts aren’t commonly featured in mainstream self-help literature because they challenge conventional wisdom. However, they hold the promise of profound transformation.
So let’s explore nine ways to become a better communicator by bidding farewell to some detrimental habits. Going beyond basic tips, this article will provide actionable insights that can truly make a difference.
1) Embracing active listening
Those who truly excel in their communication skills don’t see listening as a passive activity.
They understand that active listening is more than just a buzzword—it’s a critical technique that they proudly incorporate into their conversations.
Active listeners are not just silently waiting for their turn to speak.
They are genuinely engaged in understanding the speaker’s perspective. They focus on the person’s words, expressions, and body language to grasp the full context of what is being conveyed.
Practicing active listening helps them absorb and retain more information. It also enables them to respond more thoughtfully, making the speakers feel heard and valued.
Moreover, active listening plays a key role in strengthening relationships. It fosters empathy and respect, building a bridge of trust between the communicators.
Individuals who routinely practice active listening not only enrich their conversations but also enhance their overall communication effectiveness. Without a dedicated commitment to active listening, conversations may turn into mere exchanges of words, leading to misunderstandings or missed opportunities for deeper connections.
While embracing active listening is crucial for understanding and engaging with the speaker, it’s equally important to eliminate distractions.
As we shift our focus from merely absorbing words to fully engaging in the conversation, we must also ensure that our environment is conducive to this level of attention…
2) Letting go of distractions
Highly effective communicators don’t allow distractions to meddle in their conversations.
They recognize that staying focused is not just a sign of respect—it’s a fundamental aspect of effective communication they consciously uphold.
During conversations, they are not constantly checking their phones or letting their minds wander. Instead, they are fully present in the moment, giving their undivided attention to the person with whom they are conversing.
Eliminating distractions allows them to concentrate more fully on the conversation, leading to a clearer understanding and improved responsiveness.
Removing distractions not only improves the quality of communication but also strengthens interpersonal relationships. It conveys a sense of value and respect towards the other person, fostering a stronger bond.
Without this mindful approach, conversations may turn superficial, lack depth, and fail to lead to genuine understanding.
Once we’ve mastered the art of keeping distractions at bay, maintaining the flow of conversation becomes our next challenge. This is where the importance of not interrupting comes into play…
3) Avoiding interrupting
Effective communicators don’t habitually interrupt others mid-conversation.
They understand that interrupting is not just impolite—it’s a disruptive behaviour that can hinder the flow of communication and they consciously refrain from it.
Rather than cutting others off to assert their own ideas, they patiently wait for their turn to speak. They respect the other person’s space to express their thoughts and opinions without intrusion.
By refraining from interrupting, they allow conversations to progress naturally, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the topic at hand.
Avoiding interruptions not only smoothens the communication process but also enhances mutual respect. It sends a clear message that the speaker’s thoughts and opinions are valued, which helps in building stronger connections.
Having established a respectful communication rhythm by not interrupting, the next step is to ensure that the substance of our conversations is equally respectful. This is where shunning oversimplification becomes vital.
4) Shunning oversimplification
Great communicators don’t resort to oversimplification of complex ideas or issues.
They realize that oversimplification is not just misleading—it’s a practice that can dilute the essence of their message, and they consciously avoid it.
Instead of oversimplifying, they strive to articulate their thoughts in a clear and comprehensible manner, respecting the complexity of their subject matter.
Avoiding oversimplification helps them convey their ideas more accurately, leading to a more meaningful dialogue and deeper understanding.
Shunning oversimplification not only increases the effectiveness of your message but also demonstrates intellectual integrity. It shows an appreciation for the complexity of issues at hand, which leads to more insightful conversations.
Those who actively avoid oversimplifying not only maintain the integrity of their message but also encourage an environment of intellectual curiosity.
In our journey to improve communication, steering clear of assumptions naturally follows the rejection of oversimplification. While we strive to embrace the complexity of ideas, it’s equally important to avoid filling gaps in our understanding with assumptions.
Instead, seeking clarity by asking questions and gathering more information leads to more accurate and meaningful interactions…
5) Steering clear of assumptions
Master communicators don’t make hasty assumptions in their interactions.
They comprehend that assumptions are not just unfair—they’re a barrier to understanding that they consciously strive to dismantle.
Rather than jumping to conclusions based on limited information, they choose to ask questions and seek clarity. They acknowledge the importance of understanding the full picture before forming an opinion or making a decision.
By avoiding assumptions, they foster a more open and transparent communication environment, leading to better understanding and mutual respect.
Steering clear of assumptions not only enhances the quality of communication but also promotes trust. It conveys a willingness to understand and respect different perspectives, fostering healthier relationships.
As we learn to avoid making assumptions, another key area to focus on is how we respond to feedback and differing viewpoints. This brings us to the importance of resisting defensiveness.
6) Resisting defensiveness
Successful communicators don’t resort to defensiveness in the face of criticism.
They recognize that defensiveness is not just counterproductive—it’s a roadblock to learning and growth that they consciously try to overcome.
Instead of reacting defensively to constructive criticism, they choose to listen, reflect, and respond with openness. They view feedback as an opportunity to improve and grow rather than as a personal attack.
By resisting defensiveness, they create a more receptive and positive communication environment, leading to improved relationships and personal growth.
Letting go of defensiveness not only enhances communication but also fosters personal development. It signals a willingness to learn and grow, building stronger connections based on mutual respect and understanding.
Without this openness, feedback can become a source of conflict rather than an opportunity for improvement.
Building on the idea of being open and non-defensive, the next step in our communication journey is to minimize self-focus.
By shifting the spotlight from ourselves to include others, we not only demonstrate empathy and interest in their perspectives but also create a more balanced and inclusive conversation, an extension of the openness we practice in resisting defensiveness.
7) Minimizing self-focus
Effective communicators don’t center conversations solely around themselves.
They understand that excessive self-focus is not just off-putting—it’s a barrier to genuine connection that they consciously strive to avoid.
Instead of dominating conversations with their own experiences and perspectives, they make room for others’ thoughts and experiences. They show genuine interest in others and make an effort to understand their perspectives.
By minimizing self-focus, they foster a more balanced and inclusive communication environment, leading to deeper connections and mutual understanding.
Reducing self-focus not only improves communication but also fosters empathy. It creates space for diverse voices and perspectives, leading to richer conversations and stronger relationships.
As we work on reducing our self-focus and giving more space to others, it becomes crucial to approach these exchanges without judgment.
Discarding judgment allows us to fully appreciate and consider the diverse viewpoints and experiences shared in our conversations, enriching our understanding and further removing barriers to effective communication.
8) Discarding judgment
Effective communicators don’t let judgment cloud their conversations.
They comprehend that judgment is not just harmful—it’s a hindrance to open communication that they consciously eliminate.
Instead of hastily judging others’ thoughts and perspectives, they choose to listen with an open mind. They respect the diversity of opinions and experiences, acknowledging that everyone has a unique viewpoint.
By discarding judgment, they create a more accepting and open communication environment, leading to deeper understanding and mutual respect.
Letting go of judgment not only improves communication but also promotes empathy. It allows for more authentic connections, fostering healthier relationships.
Without this openness, conversations can become biased and restrictive, stifling genuine connection and understanding.
Lastly, in our quest for effective communication, eliminating negative language is a key step that complements discarding judgment. This final step solidifies our commitment to fostering a positive and empathetic communication environment.
9) Eliminating negative language
Master communicators don’t allow negative language to seep into their conversations.
They understand that negative language is not just discouraging—it’s a barrier to positive communication that they consciously strive to overcome.
Rather than using negative words or phrases, they choose to communicate in a positive, constructive manner. They believe in the power of positivity in shaping conversations and influencing outcomes.
By eliminating negative language, they foster a more positive and uplifting communication environment, leading to improved relationships and better outcomes.
Steering clear of negative language not only enhances communication but also promotes positivity. It creates a more encouraging atmosphere, leading to more productive and satisfying conversations.
Those who consistently eliminate negative language not only enhance their communication skills but also create an environment of positivity and encouragement.
Without this approach, conversations can become draining and counterproductive, inhibiting effective communication and understanding.
In conclusion: It could be intentional
The intricacies of human communication and relationships often boil down to our conscious choices and intentions.
One such intention is the deliberate decision to say goodbye to detrimental communication habits.
This conscious choice, although challenging, plays a pivotal role in transforming our interactions and relationships.
For those aiming to be great communicators, consciously dismissing these eight habits could be the key to unlocking effective and empathetic communication. The decision could potentially lead to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when they notice their improved interactions.
Whether it’s engaging in a deep conversation, resolving a conflict, delivering a presentation, or simply chatting with a friend, the conscious decision to improve communication habits can significantly enhance these experiences.
As the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
By saying goodbye to these eight habits, we can ensure that our conversations are not just an exchange of words but an exchange of understanding, empathy, and respect.
This is not just about becoming great communicators; it’s about fostering meaningful connections and nurturing healthier relationships.