With the start of a new year, it’s a great idea to resolve to level up in your communication skills with intentions of improving your relationships and even beginning new ones.

In the digital age we live in, communication has dramatically evolved overnight into a new phase.

Some people have trouble expressing what they truly feel and what is on their mind. It has become easy to treat people as disposable with new technology. Even with an abundance of options on how to meet new people and connect with friends and family, there are disconnects in ways people communicate.

Subtweeting, sending people subliminal messages through social media posts, and seeking attention and validation through online platforms. These are shallow actions that have become commonplace. Maybe you’ve observed these things and want to spark a change.

Nevertheless, sometimes you need to go directly to the source of what you want and need to say. If you are seeking to connect more effectively with people in all areas of your life and create new connections, this article is for you. Congrats, you’re here. You want to evolve and become better. I like you already. Let’s begin.

1. Stop filtering yourself.

If you want to become a better communicator, you need to stop filtering your feelings while maintaining a balance of being direct. This is a gap in many relationships between couples who are seeking to connect more effectively. A woman cannot be in her natural feminine energy with a man if she continues to filter her emotions. A man connect effectively connect with a woman if he is emotionally unavailable to her in the relationship.

There is a similar gap in friendships in which friends may go out and have fun together, but struggle to work through issues that are bothering them in the friendship. Some people will choose to act like everything is perfect and sweep these issues underneath the rug, but this can create tension and even resentment.

It is important to become comfortable with healthy confrontation in all of your relationships so that you can move forward from conflict with a positive attitude, instead of ending the relationship. There is a social trend in which people will enjoy each other’s company for a period of time, and then there is an issue they struggle to express and work through so one party chooses to create distance and start new friendships. It is true that often you do not owe the other person an explanation of any kind, but when you consider if you would like to maintain longevity in all kinds of relationships, it is important to develop this skill of conducting yourself with authenticity while also showing other individuals respect.

Without a balance of authenticity and vulnerability combined with direct expression, it is impossible to speak your truth. Work through expressing your honest opinions rationally and in a calm tone, as opposed to taking the approach of sounding unstable in your communication. Additionally, keep in mind showing emotion is a way to show that you care about the relationship and care committed to making it last. They key is to simplify your approach in a way that the other person will understand.

Be aware that not everyone will be responsive to your honest opinions, but that’s because it is literally impossible for everyone to agree with you. Every person in your life will not share the same communication style, so do your best to be patient and innovative in your approach to being direct.

2. Cut out the game playing.

Manipulation is never the right way to get what you want. This is a highly immature behavior in all kinds of relationships, but also common. Manipulation is a tactic that is always rooted in insecurities about the relationship or a lack of trust in the individual. Some people will choose manipulation as a way to control or be the leader in a relationship or friendship.

Now, learning about psychology tricks to become more charming, likable and connect with people more effectively is beneficial for improving communication. But intention is key. There is a big difference between psychology tricks and manipulating people to agree to your agenda.

In order to stop this unhealthy behavior, it is advisable to consider your intentions and insecurities in the relationship. If you feel the desire to be “chased” by other people in your life, are feeling under-appreciated, or concerned with loyalty and fidelity of another person, these are issues to work through with a therapist or coach. No shame. Work on yourself.

If you are on the other end and have noticed people in your life using manipulation as a tactic with you, do what you can to call out the behavior in a healthy way or consider walking away from the relationship if possible. You have the choice to manage the relationship better or create distance. It may also beneficial to work through these issues with a therapist or coach.

3. Be gentle with people and put effort into understanding their communication style.

In order to improve any communication dialogue, it is important to relax and show kindness. Try to compartmentalize your relationships with different people in your life in terms of communication. For instance, in your work life look for ways to communicate with a business parter or co-worker in a way that is assertive and direct but also softened. With your significant other or spouse, softness should always come first in your communication- turn off the business.

Use tools such as the Myer’s Briggs and The Five Love Languages test to communicate better with people close to you and understand more ways to show them appreciation and love. Ask your SO and family members to take these tests or read articles about them. Regarding The Five Love Languages, this resource can even apply to your relationships with your parents- not just couples. If you really want to show appreciation to someone close to you- an SO, a friend, a family member- communicate with them in their love language.

Different personality types often have completely different ways of listening to others and resolving conflict. Without understanding how someone processes confrontation, this can create even more conflict and frustration. Do your best to understand how your communication is coming across to people close to you. It can be hard to look in the mirror, but you may be very surprised. Remember to show yourself appreciation and love, too.

4. Communicate with your actions over your words.

Love is action, ultimately. Your actions are the best way to communicate to someone that you care about a relationship. Sometimes it is more effective to communicate a message through your actions than through your speech.

For instance, in efforts to resolve conflict and create a more harmonious living situation, you may make a larger statement through doing the dishes, vacuuming, or buying flowers for the kitchen that initiating difficult conversations with the people you live with. In turn, your roommate or SO will probably feel more open to having a conversation with you.

Relationships of all kinds do not last due to compatibility alone. They last due to commitment. In order to show you are invested in a relationship, it is important to use your actions as a communication tool.

In the case of initiating relationships and taking them into deeper levels of commitment, it is key for women in particular to only invest in relationships with men after the man has invested first and shown his efforts. Her efforts should be in response to his efforts. Never fall in love just with words. This can lead you in the wrong direction of being taken advantage of or put you in a position where you are under-appreciated in a relationship.

Overall, successful communication requires effort, emotional intelligence, and even research. Most of all, it takes a resolution to communicate more effectively and an individual who cares about connecting with other people on multiple levels. I hope these tips were helpful to you in the new year. Good luck leveling up in your relationships.

* This article was also published in Thought Catalog.

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