Communication is vital in building good relationships.

While many of us relay our messages with carefully selected words, they may occasionally be interpreted as harsh or critical.

There is always room for improvement when it comes to developing good communication skills; the following tips may come in handy!

When Mad At Someone

A good conversation starter can help to salvage the situation. Crack the ice by saying, “What happened?”, in a soft tone. This shows that you care more about the welfare of the other party than your own. By rule of thumb, avoid criticism at all cost - it adds fuel to the fire. If you have a negative point to bring up, shelve it for discussion once the ‘storm’ has subsided.

When Apologising

Apologising can be difficult but it often goes a long way in improving relationships. Having said that, the last thing people want to hear is an apology filled with excuses.

When justifying your cause, try replacing the word ‘but’ with a pause and you will be surprised by the difference. This simple substitution enables you to explain your stand while still sounding genuine.

“I’m sorry but I did my best” vs “I’m sorry. I did my best”.

The recipient will likely see this as a gesture of reparation and not a feeble attempt at self-defense! It then becomes easier to move things along and work on fixing the problem.

When Listening

A common communication problem we encounter happens when the recipient draws a conclusion before someone finishes speaking.

We often hear,“Yeah, you’ve told me that before” when we are mid-sentence. This suggests that the other party is bored or as if they are indirectly saying “Am I so unimportant that you have forgotten our past conversations?”.

Instead, if the reply is, “Yes, I remember this”, it gives the impression that the listening party cares enough to remember what has been discussed, and provides affirmation to the speaker. Doesn’t this sound more like what you would want to hear when speaking with someone?

When Emailing

This happens all the time in the office - you receive an email and can’t help but think that the sender is displeased with you. The tone of the email may be perceived as rude, sarcastic or demanding. Why so?

According to Daniel Goleman, the author of Social Intelligence, even if an email’s content is neutral, most of us often assume that the tone is negative. Technology removes many nuances of interpersonal communication, leaving a void which humans instinctively fill with negativity.

To get around this issue, end with a short and positive-sounding phrase:

“Thanks, please feel free to let me know if you have other questions!”

The recipient will feel that you are willing to be of further assistance instead of getting the impression that you are uninterested in the conversation.

P.S.: Even if you strongly feel that emoticons are only meant for informal text messages, they may help to inject some emotional clarity into work emails. Who knows, a smiley face might just brighten someone’s day!

When Making Someone Feel Appreciated

To give someone a favourable impression of you and make him/ her feel special or appreciated, all it takes is a little humility. Ask them for their opinion or advice on something. You will be surprised by how effectively it lays the foundation for a solid friendship.

Subconscious messaging kicks in and the person giving you his opinions tends to rationalise that he is probably doing you a favour because he likes you. It’s a win-win situation, as both parties gain mutual respect and likeability!

However, there is a fine line between asking for advice and help. Asking someone you barely know for help may appear rude; similar to the acquaintances who text you only when they need something from you!

When You Have A Child

Some forms of affection are easier to convey in words, so why not write to your child? You may enjoy the process of writing (be it an email or a physical letter) and your child will definitely enjoy receiving letters from you! Try writing to your young child as if he/she were an adult. In return, imagine receiving a colourful letter written by your child with their thoughts and a drawing of you - that would make your day, right?

When your child gets a little older, you can share a written archive of their precious childhood stories. My mother once showed me an old letter to my aunt that explained how I got scars under my chin and on my knees from playing with my sister at the park and tripping on a branch. Subsequently, looking at my scars triggers fond recollections and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Whatever the situation, stop, breathe and think before expressing yourself. This mindful pause is especially helpful in situations where emotions threaten to take the reins. Along with the abovementioned tips, you are well on the way to becoming a more accomplished communicator! :)


The links to the external publications on this page are provided purely for your information and educational purpose only. Tokio Marine Group does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or suitability of the contents of these external publications.  We are not endorsing any of the external products or services which are stated in these external publications, and do not attempt or intend to influence the purchase or sale of any such products or services. It should not be implied that the products, services or activities published in these external publications may also be covered under our insurance policies. Should you require more information on our products, please refer to the respective product summary or contact us.