Learning to speak with individuals from different backgrounds is integral to your college experience (Image via Mikael Kristenson)

4 Lessons You’ll Learn in Communication Class to Help Your Relationships

Knowing the mechanics of the art of speaking leads to far more than just a good grade.

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Knowing the mechanics of the art of speaking leads to far more than just a good grade.

Every minute of every day, people communicate something, either verbally or nonverbally. Strangely enough, no one really knows how exactly humans naturally evaluate conversations.

Since it is such a big part of life, universities have made communication classes required for all majors so every student has access to the tools to connect with others. Like most core curriculum courses, what students learn about in these classes is how the structure of language changes everything they thought they already knew.

The Importance of Using “I” Statements

Whenever someone gets into an argument, a typical instinct is to go straight to attack mode. To achieve this, many use “you” statements like “you never listen to me.”

Doing this creates a divide between both people and makes the tension that was already there increase. Instead, try using statements similar to “I feel like you don’t listen to me,” because this allows the same message to come across without having to create a combative environment.

After learning the importance of using “I” statements in communication class, students start to feel themselves noticing how often “you” statements involuntary come out of their mouths, and how hard it can be to train themselves out of this practice.

One student shared a time where she opted to use the suggested way to communicate feelings. By doing this, the issue was actually resolved at the end, in contrast to the normal result she was used to where both parties walk away feeling like nothing was accomplished.

Remember to pay close attention to who you are speaking to in order to have a meaningful and engaging conversation (Image via Anna Vander Stel)

Understanding Everyone Communicates Differently

Growing up, humans are taught that every person is different. However, for some reason, that idea never seems to connect when people communicate with each other. Everyone expects the person to respond the way they would, and often these expectations lead to conflict and misunderstanding.

Communication class teaches students all the different ways a person can translate their thoughts into words and how many ways humans can respond to them. The feminine style approaches conversations as a way to make relationships by focusing on rapport while the masculine style views talking as a means to get information.

Though some people have aspects of both, most of the times people engage in communication with someone who approaches talking differently than they do.

Understanding that this difference exists can be key to ensuring messages are interpreted the right way. For example, when talking to someone who only listens to facts, someone can adapt their message to be as precise as possible to keep the other person fully engaged.

Also, it can help diffuse possible arguments by taking a second to think about how they take in information and evaluate how they could have possibly interpreted what was said before exploding.

Learning Cultures Communicate Differently

Similar to people, every culture is unique in what parts of communication they value. Some believe that nonverbals are supreme, while societies, like America, put the focus on the words someone chooses. Failure to acknowledge this idea can lead to the dangerous ethnocentric view on life.

When students interact on campus, they never know what that person’s background and, most importantly, what they were unknowingly taught to pay attention to when conversing with another person.

To learn how to communicate more effectively with other cultures, communication class demonstrates to the students the importance of asking questions and looking for feedback. Getting information from outside sources opens doors to things that they would have never known otherwise.

Before taking this class, students might not have known the impact that long-term goal setting can have on communication. Knowing these things allows future interactions to be more effective.

It is crucial to remember that conversations are a two-way street (Image via rawpixel.com)

Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Through Communication

One of the most crucial aspects of anyone’s life are relationships. Humans especially put emphasis on family, friends and significant others. These kinds of connections are called interpersonal relationships.

The only way to keep those connections healthy and growing is through communication, but often it’s hard to know exactly how to achieve that in our current digital age.

All of the things that were discussed before become really important to put into practice when interacting with these important people. Using the right words and understanding the differences of how people converse is key to truly learning about someone.

Adapting to the most effective communication for that certain person makes conversation easier and builds a deeper connection.

Also, another thing communication class emphasizes is the importance of having both parties influencing the conversation. Though this may seem like the definition of what conversing is, this idea is more about making sure the people involved are interacting the same way.

Everyone knows how awful it is to have one person put more work into the conversation than the other, so checking for mutual influence can be important to determine how strong the relationship actually is.

Additionally, when engaging in interpersonal relationships, it’s crucial to keep in mind how everyone is self-disclosing. The key to intimacy is to share information about ourselves, but sometimes it may be hard to know what exactly that should be. In communication class, the textbook describes three important things to keep in mind when engaging in self-disclosure.

Whenever someone is sharing something about themselves, it is best that the other person shares the same amount or reciprocates, because if they don’t, the discloser feels the risk factor of this idea. Additionally, make sure the information being given is appropriate for the situation.

For example, it would not be appropriate to share information about family issues at a college party. All the partygoers would immediately feel like they heard the iconic record scratch, which everyone knows is never a good sound. Self-disclosing is such a big part of everyone’s lives, so it’s important to understand how it works to effectively achieve this skill.

Taking a communication class in college allows students to become more aware of how they present themselves and, most importantly, how to interact with the people around them. Realizing the mechanics of talking greatly changes how you view the world and relationships.

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