How to create an atmosphere for open communication.

Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place, person or group to another, and while it may sound simple, it can be complex. Have you ever tried expressing yourself and have the receiver misinterpret what you were saying?  This is because the message can be affected by emotions, the medium in which we use, cultural or social background and even location. Approximately 80 per cent of relationship problems have to do with communication.

It is estimated that only 30 to 35 per cent of communication comes from language, also known as verbal cues and while up to 70 per cent may come from non-verbal cues. Verbal cues are the words that we speak it’s the message we are trying conveying with the knowledge that we have and the meaning in which we place on the words that we use. Non-verbal cues include our body language, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, the distance in which we stand to the person we are communicating with and our tone of voice.

The five levels of communication are:

  1. Hallway talk also is known as cliché: Non-sharing can be with anyone and no real trust is needed
  2. Facts: Sharing of what we know this can be shared with many and little trust is required
  3. Opinions: Sharing what we think, and this requires some trust as the communication risk starts to increase from this point onwards
  4. Emotion: Sharing how we feel and at this point trust levels need to be greater and fewer people are involved
  5. Transparent: Sharing who we are and requires complete transparency. This side of ourself is reserved for those we trust

If you want to create an atmosphere for open communication, a starting point is:

  • Choose the right time especially when it’s about things that are important this can limit potential distractions
  • Use I statements rather than you or we
  • Avoid global statements such as always or never
  • If unsure about what is being said ask for clarification rather than jumping to conclusions
  • Stay present rather than withdrawing in silence or stomping out in anger. If you are unable to stay present, ask to revisit the conversation at another time just be sure to do so
  • Keep in check of your non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body language
  • Listen to understand rather than listening to reply

What would it look like if we committed ourselves to grow in how we communicate with each other how would this change the way we do relationships, family, business and life in general?