Here’s how to increase self-awareness in communication:
- Listen actively.
It’s that simple. The problem is that our culture teaches us to interrupt, interject, dispute, cajole, get angry, become defensive, fight back, and any number of things that absolutely do not improve communication. Active listening is an excellent tool used by self-aware people who understand that communicating with another person is not about imposing one’s will, it means learning about the other individual and gathering information. Here’s how you listen actively:
- Try to communicate with people one on one or in small groups.
- Communicate at times when everyone is able to participate fully.
- Set aside a quiet place to talk about meaningful things.
- Sit on the same level, not separated by a desk or other objects.
- Make time to talk thoroughly, without interruptions.
- Decide with the other person what the topic at hand is, both of you agree on what it is, no one imposes the topic.
- Once the topic is decided, let the other person tell their story.
- While the other person is talking, the only thing you should do is listen carefully to everything they have to say. Don’t think of how to rebut, or argue, or contradict, or direct the conversation. Just listen intently.
- When the other person stops talking, and only then, ask any open-ended questions you might have and then let the other person talk again.
- Repeat this whole process every time you talk with someone.
Active listening is the opposite of our standard way of communicating where we pile on each other and hope someone understands something. People who possess self-awareness are healthy and comfortable enough to give the other person the space to simply talk. This process will seem difficult at first but, over time, it will become your new way to communicate much more effectively.