A conversation with a relative about effective communication got me to thinking….it’s not something I remember being taught when I was a kid or in high school and didn’t have any courses on it until I was in college (though my husband really taught me a lot when I met him).
Do you remember being taught how to communicate without making someone defensive and/or given tools to communicate effectively? If so, when in life were you taught and where? Did it include listening skills? Do you find that you have to constantly work at it? How has your communication improved over the years?
For myself, I grew up in a family where you had to shout and/or interrupt in order to be heard. That behavior is rude and was really tough to change. Now that I’m older, I often fear that I will forget what I wanted to say if I don’t interrupt. Let’s face it, some people are very long-winded and don’t think to give you a chance to speak. If it’s really important, I try to discreetly write down what I want to say. If it’s not that important and/or I don’t have anything to write with, I usually end up resentful that I didn’t get to speak before I forgot what I wanted to say or the conversation changes to a different topic and it’s no longer relevant. What do you do in situations like this? Since I often don’t get to speak when I want/need to, it has made me strive to be a better listener. I will pause and ask the other person a question to engage them in the conversation.
Bottom line – communicating effectively takes lots of practice, patience, and is an ongoing process!