A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in colour and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (20c American jurist)
This area will focus on what leads to the quality of communication in relation to its content, as well as the way we communicate.
The what of communicating (the content)
Let’s start with some features pertinent to the content of our communication:
Preparation: preparing what to say can be beneficial when you are expected to talk (e.g. giving a speech) or answer questions (e.g. at exams). It can also be good for potentially awkward situations (e.g. being publicly praised). However, preparation may not be so useful for conversations. It is often ineffective as the responses of others are rarely fully predictable, and can also impede spontaneity. Words need to reflect the actual mood and situation to have a desired effect, so, thinking through an issue rather than thinking about what to say is a better preparation.
Openness and concealment: openness, sharing our inner world with others, is important for communication. The more we are open, the greater exchange can be. However, openness involves some risks: opening up too much or too fast may have the opposite effect. If you quickly reveal everything, you may cease to be interesting. In fact, complete openness is rarely desired. That people remain to some extent a secret for each other can make an interaction more appealing. However, being deliberately secretive can put people off too. Some fine-tuning is called for here. In a nutshell, it is usually better to open up gradually and to a degree that won’t put you in an uneven position or make you regret it later. To avoid the former, check if the other person is opening up as much as you; to avoid the latter, before going further, ask yourself if you will be okay tomorrow having opened up so much.