Advice From an Argonaut: Tips to Improve Communication

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Advice From an Argonaut: Tips to Improve Communication

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With so many modern ways of interacting with others it is hard to believe that many people struggle with communication. From face-to-face confrontations, presentations, or even when texting there are many mistakes to be avoided when talking to people. 

Speaking in front of a crowd has always been a struggle for many people, including myself. Many can recall a time when fear has left them stuttering long before they’ve even stepped foot in front of a crowd. According to cognitive-psychiatry.com, chewing gum can help to relieve stress and anxiety, a trick that is useful for situations such as public speaking. Since I personally don’t like gum, tapping on something or talking to a friend usually helps. Once it’s time to speak it’s easy to tense up again – remember to breathe and focus on something that soothes you. It’s helpful to research what you’re going to talk about beforehand which will give you a loose line of previous material when you speak. Soon enough, you’ll be done speaking and everything will be back to normal! 

Face-to-face confrontations are a little trickier than speaking to a crowd, mostly because a single person will talk back to you. When someone speaks it’s always respectful to listen to their stance on whatever topic you are discussing and wait until the right time to give your own ideas. If you find yourself continuously getting cut off, ask for the other person to hear you out or to give you a moment so you can finish your thoughts. Try to avoid words and phrases that can be interpreted as harsh to not push your audience away and stay open to another opinion. Being kind usually works better than anything else. In an article on psychologytoday.com, the author claims that “Whatever the content of the things we say, it’s our tone that communicates what we’re feeling when we say them”, emphasizing that a harsh tone of voice also makes having a casual conversation quite difficult.  

Texting, while being one of the most common ways to communicate with others, is an area where the most misinterpretations happen. An article by theconversation.com speaks on the way ending sentences with a period affects the tone of the message, bringing light to the importance of putting thought into what we send. In my own opinion, simply asking what a message means can make the difference in determining the direction of the conversation. Tell the other person what you think they meant and ask if you’re understanding them correctly while remembering to not sound aggressive. If something really bothers you, call the person you’re talking to or even talk to them in person, so you can navigate the situation easier by using social cues that cannot be found solely through the words used. 

The good news is that most of the problems faced with communication occur when fear takes over or when confusion is not cleared, so if you’re having issues it’s likely to be one of these. While you may not believe this to be a positive thing, it makes it easier to identify which problem you’re facing and allows you to take steps to help yourself. Communication may be difficult but it is a necessary part of our everyday lives.