Adding Life To Years

Good Communication: The How, What, and Why

One essential positive human interaction element is to create good communication. Good communication skills consist of verbal and non-verbal modes of transferring information to another person. In addition, active listening skills to absorb what others are communicating is an important part of good communication. One primary example of good communication skills involves not only hearing what another person has to say but also listening actively with verbal and nonverbal affirmations, such as head nods, verbal agreements, body posture, and direct eye contact.

Communication is an essential life skill for anyone and everyone. It’s one of the earliest survival skills we learn as growing children. As we grow and become fully functioning human beings, communication only increases in complexity and importance. We communicate in a lot of different ways and modalities:  person to person, via email, telephone, texting, Facebook, and other forms of group messaging on social media. At the end of this article, I display today’s worst disease with no cure in sight.

With countless audiences and vehicles to communicate and deliver your messages, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos and revert to easy, disorganized messaging. Just look at our President’s messaging, his ego dominates his communication style and many times it leaves us feeling more confused than informed. To clearly communicate your point and build trusting relationships, you need to ask how can I help?  This method of communication enhances one’s ability to connect with people and build long-lasting relationships. Obviously, you have to be authentic with your word and follow through, but offering help demonstrates that you care about people.

In addition, trust, dependability, and authenticity are important to good communication in all forms.  Good communicators are also frequent communicators, they keep communication open and don’t shut people out.  We have the ability to sense when people aren’t being true to themselves. It puts us off and gives us a strange feeling. When you’re genuine, people can tell. It puts others at ease and makes them more inclined to trust you which makes communication a lot easier. Good communicators don’t sacrifice their authenticity to impress others.

Another critical element of good communication is nonverbal and it relates to the intent of the message. Examples of intent are voluntary, intentional movements like hugging, shaking a hand, as well as involuntary, such as sweating. Nonverbal cues are heavily relied on to express communication and to interpret others’ communication and can replace or substitute verbal messages. However, non-verbal communication is ambiguous. When verbal messages contradict non-verbal messages, observation of non-verbal behavior is relied on to judge another’s attitudes and feelings, rather than assuming the truth of the verbal message alone.

Non-verbal communication plays a vital role in our messaging and is in every single communication act. To have total communication, all non-verbal channels such as the body, face, voice, appearance, touch, distance, timing, and other environmental forces must be engaged during face-to-face interaction. Written communication can also have non-verbal attributes. E-mails and web chats allow individuals the option to change text font colors, stationary, emotions, and putting in emotive faces or other pictures in order to capture non-verbal cues into a verbal text, but they are very limited.

Having effective good communication is imperative and in person, face to face, is the most valuable. We are able to look at the non-verbal body language. In order to have more effective communication we should not shy away from the person with whom you are speaking. We need to be sure to maintain a relaxed, but not slouching posture, regardless whether you are the one speaking or listening. Other things that ensure your body is communicating your attentiveness to the conversation can include:

  • Making eye contact;
  • Nodding occasionally to acknowledge a strong point in the conversation;
  • Standing with hands clasped in front of you, never crossing your arms;
  • Not displaying nervous ticks such as wringing hands, picking at your nails, or anything that the person communicating with you will view as a distraction from their conversation.
  • Being present and not distracted by surroundings, especially, your cell phone!

Being open and honest is important for good communication. Be sure to leave communication lines open to those who may need to address problems with you. You will find that you prevent the small issues that normally have the habit of becoming large ones by making those in your life aware that you are open to discussing issues at any time.

It is important to understand just how much of what you say and how you say it matters. Good communication skills have the potential to leave a lasting impact on others, let’s make that a positive one, what better way of ‘adding life to years’.

And . . . here are a couple of examples of today’s worst disease for our future with no cure in sight!





Lawrence J. Weiss, Ph.D. is CEO of the Center for Healthy Aging. Dr. Weiss welcomes your comments on this column. Write to him at or c/o Center for Healthy Aging, 11 Fillmore Way, Reno, NV 89519.

On September 12th, 2017, posted in: Adding Life To Years by
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