We've all had one of those skype or phone calls where the line is dropping out. Generally it is through no fault of either person, but it's frustrating. And communication starts to break down.

Without realising it, we can start taking that frustration out on the other party. We get annoyed at having to repeat ourselves, so we start raising our voices and talking in staccato like we are talking to an idiot.

The bad connection makes us sub-consciously feel like the other person isn't listening to us.

Similar things can happen in our face-to-face interactions. Frustrations occur and communication breaks down.

Through accident or ignorance, we may not be listening to the other person. Perhaps we are distracted by something else that is on our mind. Perhaps we are thinking too much about what we want to say instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying. Or perhaps we are simply more interested in expressing ourselves rather than interacting. Either way, one will realise the other person isn't hearing them, and will either try to forcibly express themselves or feel bitter that they aren't being heard. It's a bad connection.

Have you ever had someone talk to you while you are watching television, and you find that you neither really hear the person or fully catch what was just said on the TV? (Thank goodness we can pause live TV now!)

Sometimes the line gets bad when we have a difference of opinion. What's important to remember is that the other person is expressing their own opinion. It's not a problem if someone has a different opinion to yours, two opinions can co-exist. Maybe one opinion isn't right, but no-one is negating your opinion just by having one of their own. Where it goes wrong is when people are so busy defending or expressing their opinion that they are blocking the other person. This is a bad connection and will only lead to resentment rather than interaction.

People can listen to each other and still disagree.

When we fail to converse regularly, this creates a bad connection. We start getting ideas in our head about the other person rather than speaking to them directly. The longer it has been since we had a proper conversation with the other person, the harder it is to open one up. Communication breaks down and you both feel as though you don't know each other.

Similar to this, hearing information second-hand about a person is a bad connection. Perhaps it's not always gossip, but anytime you hear someone say "so-and-so thinks this" or "he said this about you", try speaking directly to the person instead and hearing it straight from the horse's mouth. Rumours & Chinese whispers are a bad connection. Gossip even more so.

Our reliance on conversing by text or online isn't always healthy, especially if discussing a problem. I often use email so that I can completely express what I want to say. But the dangers of this is that the words start becoming a debate in nature, and we can forget that we are talking to a real person. Face-to-face conversations soften our approach so that who we are talking to is more important than what we are talking about. Online conversations easily go downhill as responses get out of hand. Our interactions are distorted. It's a bad connection.

Some tips for avoiding a bad connection:

  1. Actively listen to the other person. Repeat back to them what they've said if you want to ensure you've heard them properly.
  2. Remember that a conversation goes two ways. What the other person is saying is just as important as what you are saying.
  3. Pause the TV when someone is talking to you.
  4. Respect others' right to express their opinions even if you don't agree with the opinion itself.
  5. Converse regularly. (Use Awkward Silence's conversation starters to help with this!)
  6. Talk to the person directly.
  7. Avoid online discussions that are becoming antagonistic. They never improve.
  8. Recognise a bad connection. Being aware of it can help you overcome it.

Let's Talk.