It's more than just talking

If you’re looking to improve your relationships, the number one skill you can develop is how you communicate. While we undoubtedly understand that communication skills are important, most people do nothing to fine tune them. Mediocre communication leads to trust and commitment issues which few relationships can endure for long. Because all behaviour is communication, it is a keystone to maintaining healthy ties to one another.

The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, try these tips:

1. Make eye contact. Yes, it’s been said over and over again, but eye contact is essential to showing others you are interested in them and what they have to say. Also, research has shown that we tend to like and trust people more who make eye contact with us.

2. Turn your body towards the person. We point our bodies towards people we like and away from those we don’t. Ensuring your body is facing the person will show them you are engaged with them. Don’t forget to check where your feet are pointed as well.

3. Remove barriers. Uncross your arms and get out from behind tables when talking with others. Show them that you are open to them and their ideas.

4. Lean forward, not back. Leaning slightly towards the person shows them you are invested in the conversation. Leaning backwards creates distance between you and what they are saying.

5. Listen. This is a given, but true listening is a skill most people have trouble developing. We often listen to reply instead of listening to understand. During a conversation, ask yourself: Why is this important to them? What’s the story they are telling themselves? Because people act based on how they see the world, understanding their perspective will go a long way to knowing how to respond and work with that person in a way that is beneficial to you both. Remember to repeat back what you’ve heard in your own words to confirm your understanding and seek clarification.