Effective Communication

There are many variables involved in creating long-lasting, mutually respectful peer relationships. Effective communication can enhance your interpersonal relationships by correcting misunderstandings. Here are a few communication tips to improve your peer relationships.

General Tips

Use "I" statements

Talk in terms of yourself, and specify your feelings as result of their behavior. For example, try not to say, "You're so inconsiderate. You're always late," (in which case, you're labeling and generalizing the person's actions.) Also, do not disguise "you" statements within an "I" statement

  • e.g., "I feel that you were being disrespectful when you were late!" Instead, you could say "I feel really upset that I had to wait again."

"Reflect" feelings

Show the speaker you care and that you're really paying attention. Even if they do not specify their feelings or emotions, try to guess what they may be feeling. For example, you could say "Sounds like you're feeling sad" or "You must feel pretty angry." Generally, it is best to reflect the speaker's feelings first and/or rephrase what they have said before you start to give your own experience or views. This assures the speaker that you have heard them so that they are not focused on trying to get their point across. And, this allows the speaker to then turn their attention to you.

Face-to-face communication

Good face-to-face communication can make a difference at home, at work, and in social situations. Try to be clear and precise. Think about what you really want to say. Cover one idea at a time. Focus on specific behaviors and not personality characteristics.

Watch your posture

This is part of your body language. Work on standing -- or sitting -- tall. Others may interpret your slouched posture as low self-esteem, disrespect, boredom, etc.

Use appropriate eye contact

Eye contact can aid understanding and communicate respect. But depending on cultural background, too much eye contact can make the other person uncomfortable.

Be careful of your voice volume.

Talking too loudly can threaten listeners.
Talking too softly can bother listeners and lead to misunderstanding.

As stated above, there are many variables that contribute to long-lasting, respectful relationships. Many cultural and social expectations may conflict, which lead to increased communication difficulties. For example, some of these tips may not be as effective when you are interacting with an elder within your culture because of different hierarchical relationship and communication expectations.

Avoid habits that hurt communication

For example, avoid:
  • Name-calling, labeling, or making fun of others
  • Lecturing or interpreting
  • Taking other's problems lightly (e.g., saying "I know... I understand,." and moving on to a different topic)
  • Thinking of a response while the other person is still talking
  • Giving orders or directing
  • Giving advice, unless the person has specifically asked for advice

Please come into Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in the Student Wellness Center, Room 300B (third floor), to further consult with a personal counselor on communication and relationship issues. If your academics are negatively impacted, we also have educational counselors who may help with your educational performance, time management skills, etc. Our personal counselors are available for appointments and walk in crisis counseling.  Please call us at 408-924-5910 to schedule an appointment or for more information.