7 ways to communicate effectively with a friend
No matter how close you are to someone, there are still times when a friendship can be a little difficult.
People have different opinions, needs and ideas around boundaries and personal space – and that’s OK. But like a relationship with anybody, having friends sometimes requires a little compromise and in no small dose – good communication:
Refer to yourself
Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements. Point the finger at yourself rather than your friend – and avoid blaming them. This should get a more positive response. For example rather than saying, ‘You let me down’, try something like ‘I was disappointed you cancelled at the last second’.
People can’t mind-read, so it’s best not to assume they know how you feel. If you only hint rather than communicating clearly it’s unfair to expect someone to get the message. The same goes for rambling, try to be concise.
Do it now, or as soon as you can. Leaving a situation or an emotion to fester will only allow more tension to build. That said, if you’re very angry and can’t trust yourself to stay calm it’s probably better to cool off a bit first. This way you’re less likely to say things you might regret.
If you’re not quite clear then it’s better to ask for clarification. The same way that people can’t read your mind, you can’t read theirs. Checking what they mean will help avoid misunderstandings.
Discuss your discomfort
If you’re uncomfortable raising an issue it can help to let the other person know. By being honest about your dicomfort you reduce the likelyhood that your friend will become defensive. It shows that you care enough about them to bring they issue up, but you don’t want to hurt them.
Watch your body language
How you speak – the volume and tone of voice, and your physical gestures and facial expressions will effect how you deliver the message. Try to have a open and relaxed posture, and to speak with a calm voice, this will help to put your friend at ease.
Here’s an acronym to help you remember good body language:
- S – face the person Squarely
- O – Open posture, no crossed arms or fidgeting
- L – Lean towards the person, not too much but just enough to show interest
- E – maintain Eye contact, without staring
- R – be Relaxed, don’t fidget and be comfortable
Expressing positive feelings towards your friend will help to develop a good relationship. If we like someone and appreciate them it’s easy to assume they know this. As we said above, people aren’t mind readers, so they might not know how we feel. Even if they do, it’s still nice to be told!
Warm feelings can be expressed how you like – how much you say is up to you. But it needn’t be complicated, even just thanking someone for being a good friend will make them feel appreciated.