In the previous article in this series, I discussed the difference between verbal and nonverbal communication and looked at how body language plays a vital part in the role of emotion in interpersonal communication. Your body language communicates energy, passion, reluctance, and a whole range of other emotions. I concluded with the need to gain greater understanding of the connection between emotional intelligence and nonverbal communication in order to use body language more effectively.
In this article I want to dig a little deeper, and gain a greater insight into the art of communicating effectively and the role of emotion in interpersonal communication.
Defining effective communication
Believing that communication is the act of exchanging ideas is too narrow a definition. It is far more than this. Think about the way in which we communicate, how people talk, and the signals they provide. Communication is more than simple words: effective communication is a two-way exchange of information, emotions, and intentions.
When you are able to communicate effectively, you will be able to form deeper relationships, build an alliance of teamwork, commit yourself and others more easily to responsibility, and increase your problem solving ability. To communicate effectively requires adept skills that include listening, assertiveness, nonverbal techniques, emotional intelligence, and the ability to manage stress.
Identifying the role of emotion in interpersonal communication
Emotion plays a large part in our ability to communicate effectively. The best communicators use emotion in a positive manner, evidencing passion, drive, energy, trust, and calmness. However, this skill is one that needs to be learned: it is a natural human trait for our emotions to cloud our ability to communicate, giving away our feelings and disrupting our ability to communicate effectively.
Stress: the devil that destroys effective communication
The major road block in establishing and continuing effective communication is stress. This may be caused by a number of factors – some work related, others of a more personal nature – but whatever the cause, surrender to stress results in a lessened ability to listen and read other people as well as an increased likelihood of giving out false signals.
When poor communication is stress-led, all parties can degenerate to knee-jerk reaction. An emotionally intelligent person is better able to manage their stress and reactions as well as the reactions of others.
Everyday exercises to help manage stress
When considering the role of emotion in interpersonal communication, stress management is one of the top strategies to adopt. When you are able to manage stress in a variety of situations, not only will you communicate more effectively but you will earn the reputation of being a calm and fast-thinker, and able decision maker.
If you realize that you are becoming stressed, here are a few everyday exercises to help you manage stress levels and communicate in a calmer, more effective manner:
- Take time to calm down, and think before speaking
- Breath slowly, relax your muscles, and think of a positive image
- See the bright side of the situation, and take things a little less seriously. Look for ways to diffuse conflict, such as sharing a funny story
- Use a care-fronting rather than confronting approach
4 steps to remain stress free and communicate more effectively
1. Take a moment to breath
Don’t rush to respond. Take a second or two to breathe, gather thoughts, and process information received. Don’t think it negative to ask for clarification of a question or previous statement – this gives you time to think about how to answer.
2. Communicate one point at a time
Listeners have a limited time-frame of concentration. It is better to communicate one point at a time, use examples to clarify your position, and allow the other person a chance to respond accordingly. This gives you a chance to consider reaction, while drawing the correspondent into a more meaningful exchange, building mutual trust and respect.
3. Use body language effectively
Think about your body language as you speak. Maintain eye contact, speak in an even tone, and speak clearly and concisely. Choose words carefully, relax, and open yourself to the communication exchange.
4. It helps to clarify your position
Having spoken, summarize your position and what you have said. Then allow the other correspondent to talk. Even if there is silence, don’t feel the need to continue.
In later articles, I’ll explore further communication techniques as we build out the foundations of the deeper emotional intelligence that will empower the effectiveness of your communication capabilities.
Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective personal skills in the workplace, for leaders, managers, and employees.