Here's How To Have Effective Conversations With Anyone

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Effective Communication Skills & Techniques For Building Relationships

Regardless of whether you're a stay-at-home mom or work in a professional environment, learning effective communication skills and ways to talk to your family, friends, and colleagues will make your life simpler and drama-free.

In order to learn some effective communication skills and how to implement those in your every day life, you must learn how to set goals for your conversations and interactions.

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In every single interaction both in your personal and professional lives, you have goals that motivate your communication with others.

The very first step to effective communication is knowing what your goals are, and being clear on exactly what you want as an outcome.

This means clarifying your aims and objectives before you even enter the conversation, send that email, or make that call.

Examples of goals for communicating include:

  • Expressing thoughts and feelings
  • Improving your sense of connection
  • Developing intimacy and closeness
  • Increasing mutual understanding
  • Comforting someone/being comforted by someone
  • Venting frustrations or fears
  • Acquiring information
  • Saying yes/no to something
  • Seeking clarification on something
  • Requesting or applying for something
  • Seeking assistance to solve a problem
  • Sharing our opinions or viewpoints
  • Collaborating and brainstorming ideas
  • Being entertained or amused

In my personal life, when I interact with my three best friends, I have a different goal with each of them, and they too, have goals when communicating with me.

Best Friend 1 Goal: To vent, be understood and have them share with me unique perspectives that broaden my understanding of the issue I’m speaking with them about.
Best Friend 2 Goal: To exchange ideas and stories of our experiences over the week and mutually reflect on what we’ve learned about ourselves and the world.
Best Friend 3 Goal: To convert our everyday life occurrences into puerile parody and nonsensical rhetoric we can laugh about 'til our stomachs hurt.'

With all three of my best friends, I know their aim when talking with me is to feel validated and uplifted, have thought-provoking discussions, and be shown the humor in life's challenges.

Think about in your own life with the people you interact with the most- your partner, family, and friends: what’s your underlying objectives for communicating with them?

Is it for their astounding wisdom beyond their years that makes them a cost-effective oracle to consult on any personal problems that arise?

Is it for their bizarre and drama-filled personal anecdotes that forces you to value your seemingly mundane existence?

Is it their impassioned rants about social injustices that give you a much-needed energy surge, even though you’re still not really sure of what “racial micro-aggressions” actually are?

Or maybe it’s their rather annoyingly cliched minimal responses like, “I get it,” and “It is what is it is,” that leave you feeling strangely soothed after a conversation with them?

What do you think their goals for interacting with you are? Is it connection, understanding, insight, entertainment, comfort, or comedy?

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In your professional life, your interpersonal goals might include:

  • Seeking support on an idea you present at a meeting
  • Strengthening existing business relationships
  • Motivating and inspiring your staff
  • Getting a colleague to collaborate on a project
  • Raising an issue with team members
  • Getting management to resolve or change something
  • Developing new relationships to meet organizational objectives

Your goal(s) in any interpersonal situation acts as the navigation to guide you to say and do what is needed to be most effective in that context.

For example, if your aim is to communicate to your partner that you care about them, this goal would shape not only the words you use, but also your tone of voice and the physical gestures that you use to convey you care.

If your objectives with a colleague are to continue having an amicable working relationship with them, while also letting them how their slacking off is affecting your own workload, these two goals will dictate both your delivery and word choice in raising this issue with them.

Conversely, if your intention is to stand up for your beliefs and reclaim your self-respect after someone you don't wish to have anything to do with has expressed views that grossly contradict your personal values, you may not feel the need to be mindful in your words or delivery, because your goal is merely to speak out, not maintain a relationship with that person.

A lack of clarity of your objectives means you can easily veer off course and find yourself:

  • In the middle of an entirely different conversation discussing a totally different issue
  • Agreeing to something you don’t want to be doing
  • Having completely lost sight of what you initially wanted
  • In a heated argument about something that happened in the past

Knowing what your goals and objectives are in an interpersonal setting increases the likelihood of you getting what you want out of a situation, being heard, respected, and understood, and standing up for your needs or beliefs.

For many people, when it comes to your professional and or personal life, the art of communication may feel daunting because you don’t know what you want out of the interaction.

Not knowing what you want leaves you susceptible to being swayed by the other person’s goals and objectives and leaves you feeling out of control and fearing communication. If you’re one who fears and avoids confrontation and prefers to keep the peace at all costs (namely at the cost of your own peace!), just know that you’re only scared of communication because you haven’t developed the skills to feel competent yet.

And because communication is a skill, you can learn to be more interpersonally effective through practice, patience, and persistence!

Questions to ask yourself before you initiate dialogue to ensure more effective communication outcomes:

  1. What do I want out of this situation? What are my goals, objectives and desired outcomes?
  2. What do I want them to understand about this situation? What information, insight or clarification do I want to give them?
  3. How do I want them to feel about me both during and after this interaction? Do I want them to feel I have been fair, respectful and proactive in raising these issues?
  4. How do I want to feel about myself both during and after this interaction? Do I want to feel self-respecting and pleased that I stood up for myself and expressed my views?

We all have goals when interacting with others, and the key to communication mastery is knowing what your goals are and then tailoring your content and delivery to achieve them. Knowing your goal in advance and keeping it in mind throughout the duration of the interaction will ensure you stay on track with your objectives, meaning you’ll be the most effective you can possibly be in that conversation/email/text.

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Miya Yamanouchi is an empowerment counselor with specialist sex & relationship training who is committed to assisting all members of the community to embrace their inner strength and live an inspired and vibrant life, irrespective of their perceived limitations.