It’s ironic that even though we spend a good chunk of time interacting with one another, we’re still terrible at communicating. And sooner or later, we face the consequences of this ignorance.
Poor communication can be a big roadblock in our conversations and exchanges at work, home, and community. Not being willing to listen to the other person, saying the wrong things in an incorrect manner, and even a slight change in facial expressions or tone of voice can have a negative impact on our interactions with people around us. However, fortunately, good communication skills can be learned and practiced at any age.
In their groundbreaking book Words Can Change Your Brain, Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman lay out 12 simple and straightforward steps to train for conversations beforehand, become more mindful, authentic, and empathetic, and create a safe and healthy environment that encourages trust and bonding.
Let’s go over them briefly:
- Calming your mind: Stress has a negative impact on interactions; it makes people more likely to experience two emotions that derail communication: anger and irritation.
- Learning to be present: Most people can’t stay present for long as they easily get distracted by mental chatter. Focusing on your breath can be immensely helpful as it brings you back to what’s happening at the moment, making you attentive to the other person’s words, feelings, and emotions.
- Cultivating inner silence: It’s crucial to tame your inner speech — a constant stream of ideas and dialogue running through your mind — for better communication. You must train yourself to focus on the silence right after a specific sound such as the sound of a ringing bell that gradually fades. With time and practice as you enhance your focus and become more attentive, it becomes easier to silence your speech during conversations.
- Having a positive attitude: Negativity not only hinders communication by affecting the morale of the other person but it also harms your brain in the long run by releasing stress hormones. Therefore, to become a better communicator, you must focus on positive thinking. Your imagination can be of immense help in this regard. Before an important conversation, imagine having a positive interaction and counter any negative thoughts about your relationship with the other person with positive ones.