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Interpersonal Communications

Having better conversations is easy

Communications is as necessary to our survival as breathing. Interpersonal skills are the skills we use when we interact with others. These skills are critical to business and relationships. It’s how we engage and interpret our world. Despite its important role, we often take effective communication for granted. We can assume that everyone sees the world through our eyes which can lead to misinterpretations, disagreements and confusion. The following tips provide some insights into keeping communications fluid.

Tip 1: Speak Up! 

Speak your mind. Sitting silently in disapproval or disengagement while things that are important to you unfold is an effective way to develop distrust and unhappiness. When you do speak, speak with honesty and from your personal perspective. Speak because you have something of value to contribute, not defensively or to lay blame.

Tip 2: Listen Up!

Good conversations happen when you actively listen. This is about taking in what the other person is saying, without planning your next words. Essentially it's about being ‘in the moment’. Listen without prejudice and expect the same courtesy in return. Keep in mind that you can’t listen actively while using a device to communicate with others. Good conversations assume that all participants are there to listen and learn.

Tip 3: Conflict Happens

Despite your best efforts conflict happens. The absence of dissenting voices does not necessarily mean things are going well. It could be an indicator that people are not comfortable enough to express dissenting opinions. Rather than putting up a defensive wall, suspend your beliefs when conflict arises. Listen with an open mind to what is being said. You might be surprised by what you learn.

Tip 4: Slow Down 

Older adults have the advantage here. As we get older our thought processes slow down. This means we give more careful deliberation to issues, this is great for developing rapport and accurately reflecting on what is being shared. It takes time to digest, integrate and develop thoughts and questions. The next time you share information,  give people the opportunity to ask questions and reflect on concepts while you are sharing rather than just when you are done. Pause and ask people what they think – make it a conversation rather than a presentation.

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