In my career, I work with a lot of people in a lot of settings. You might say my job involves a lot of relationships. In the process, I have learned the key to healthy relationships is communication.
Communication is an art of sorts. Some are better at it than others.
I have seen relationships destroyed because of poor communication. I know marriages that could improve if we improved the communication in the marriage. I’ve seen people avoid other people because they know how the communication will go when they encounter them. I’ve known people who are short on quality relationships, and, honestly, many times it is because they never learned or don’t practice healthy communication techniques. Careers are made and destroyed by a person’s ability to communicate effectively—or not.
So, sincerely, this post is intended to help. I want to share some things not to do in attempting healthy communication. We are all guilty or some of these at times—this blogger/pastor included.
Here Are 5 Don’ts of Healthy Communication:
Don’t always have a bigger story.
This is the one I’ve been guilty the most of these five. Someone is telling you their story and their experience reminds you of your experience. So, naturally, you interrupt their story, or don’t appear to be listening closely, because you want to share your story. But, remember, right now they are sharing “their” experience. It is important enough to them to share it with you. Don’t try to trump their story. It is rude and it shuts them down. Discipline yourself to wait for the right opportunity—and be OK if it doesn’t come—sometimes your only role is to listen.
Don’t talk more than you listen.
This will address the person you’re thinking of in the first point that is always sharing their story. They never listen. They don’t give you a chance to share yours. If this is you, stop talking and listen. Ask questions. Show genuine concern. Be interested in what others have to say too. You’ll find people more interested in what you have to share when it’s your turn.
Don’t always be negative.
All of us are negative at times. Life is hard and it impacts us. That’s partly what friendships are for—to share our burdens with one another. But every conversation and every comment we make shouldn’t be negative. It makes it difficult to build a sustainable, healthy relationship, because sometimes the other person needs you to be positive on the day they are especially negative.
Don’t consistently have the last word.
Sure you’ve got one more word to share. We get it. Most likely you’ve already proven that point. But, sometimes let the other person say the final word. It’s humbling for you—and good—for you and them. And, the conversation. And, the relationship.
Don’t speak before you think.
This is so important. Maybe the most important one. It includes the saying, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything—or nothing at all.” (If you want to be like Thumper.) If we could catch our words before they exit our mouths, filter them through the power of love and grace, then release them, we could keep from injuring those with whom we are trying to communicate. And, relationships could thrive apart from the injury of inappropriate or awkward—often even mean-spirited words.
OK, be honest, upon which of these do you need to improve?
Remember, I shared mine. Now your turn.
This article originally appeared here.