TAKE THE TIME TO REPLY
In today’s modern age, text-based conversations via SMS or instant messengers allow more things to be said. Rather than just the usual “OK,” take a bit of time to analyze what the other person is saying. You might save yourself an argument later if you reply properly now. Taking a few seconds to type in “thank you” or “have a great day” may make the person on the other end feel that you really appreciate him or her—which goes a long way toward promoting friendly feelings.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK
If you’re not clear on your dinner date plans, go ahead and clarify. People usually skim over the details since they know the general timetable or plan, but it’s the little things that you thought you knew that usually end the night in a not-so-good way. If you want to know something, don’t be afraid to ask! Asking for and receiving answers doesn’t just clarify things in the way of gimmicks—sometimes asking someone for his or her advice, opinion, or even how he or she is doing will help strengthen your relationship.
WRITE IT IN A LETTER
As we get more and more entrenched in our work lives, with constant email exchanges and meetings, luxuries like letter-writing may have given way to other things, like sleeping in or watching a movie. If you’re feeling creative or expressive, try writing a letter! The best part? You can say what you want without fear of an instant reply! Even a card would be a very thoughtful gift to give your friend, boyfriend, husband, or family member—these aren’t just restricted to birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, after all. When was the last time you sent a card telling your boyfriend you missed him while he was on a trip or one telling your mom you’re glad she’s your mom? Thoughtfulness on holidays is sweet, but thoughtfulness “just because” on an ordinary day can really lift the spirits and bring you closer together.
FACE OFF ON IMPORTANT MATTERS
Some things are just too important or sensitive to leave to writing, where your meaning can be easily misconstrued. For other things, it’s just plain rude to bring something up over email, chat, text, or letter—consider the tastelessness of breakups over Facebook or Friendster. Important conversations should be held face to face, eye to eye. Yes, sometimes this is the harder way to break bad news or hold awkward discussions. But if what you have to say is going to affect a person deeply, emotionally, the least you can do is say it to his or her face rather than with the starkness and impersonality of letters on a page.
Listening is not about hearing or reading what the other person has to say. Listening is all about understanding what the other person wants to communicate to you. It involves breaking down the words into meanings and how these meanings affect not just you, but the person saying them to you. Learn to read between the lines. Try not to interrupt, and always try to understand where the other person is coming from.
Communication is an important part of any relationship. But do remember than communication is not just about getting your point across; it’s also listening to what the other person has to say. Try it!
(Photo by Zvone Lavric, Slovenia, via sxc.hu)
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