The quality of conversation determines the quality of a relationship. Much more than words, a conversation is engagement, interaction and the glue of relationships. And, when communication is authentic, it promotes connection and earns trust between people.
Brain research shows that 93 percent of communication is not words. Author and academic Judith E. Glaser explains that, “In terms of importance, people allocate 7 percent to words, 38 percent to tone of voice, and 55 percent to nonverbal behaviors.” Nonverbal communication will always trump the words.
The primary purpose of communication is to convey meaning and understanding. Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s wisdom, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” reminds us that within the context of a relationship, the quality of each conversation matters.
No single conversation defines an entire relationship. Therefore, each interaction is important — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Does your communication invite connection and build trust? Are your conversations genuine?
Do you know that…
- Transparent communication can withstand scrutiny.
- Superficial and disingenuous messages lack credibility and fail to earn trust. We feel uncomfortable, anxious or suspicious when we can’t make sense of things or don’t know what we can count on.
- “Politically correct” rhetoric may provoke anger precisely because we sense that a message is not authentic — it avoids saying what’s true or attempts to obscure an undesirable reality or what may be obviously biased.
- Candid and dynamic conversations can co-create resolutions, stimulate collaboration, create connection, inspire curiosity, and identify options — all in service of advancing a process of getting things done.
- Honest conversations help us to listen to, acknowledge and understand conflicting perspectives and to work our way through the sticky and prickly situations of life.
- Thoughts, ideas, beliefs and values can be transformed through dialogue. A collaborative exchanging of ideas can create a shared meaning and reality.
- The ability to engage authentically and be fully present with another person promotes trust, connection and respect.
9 Tips to Improve Your Conversations
- Check in with yourself before you begin speaking.
- Be sure that you are “present” with the other person.
- Identify your feelings about the person or topic.
- Think about the immediate and long-term outcomes that you desire. What meaning do you wish to convey?
- Speak only for yourself; do not assume that you can speak for others.
- Clear thinking is essential for effective communication. Be sure that you know what you mean. If you don’t know, no one else will either.
- Be mindful that your words match your feelings.
- Ensure that you are open and forthcoming and not withholding or defended.
- Be ready and willing to listen with 100 percent attention.