We have all heard that communication is a key ingredient for good relationships, yet many of us struggle to express ourselves in the best way possible in order to get what we want or need. Whether it be in the work place or any interpersonal relationship, being aware of a few key points might help.
The following are some bad habits that we all possess, and it is important to become aware of them in order to communicate more effectively.
- We don’t listen to the person speaking as we are busy thinking about our response or rebuttal.
- We interrupt or even insult one another.
- We disagree by putting the other down. e.g. That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.
- We escape into silence.
- We get frustrated and escalate.
- We don’t stick to the subject being discussed and bring in other gripes.
In order to correct these problems, it is important to begin with an “I statement” which communicates your feelings and needs. For example, you could say “I feel frustrated when you don’t listen to me because I want us to understand each other better,” instead of saying “You never listen to me.”
Here are some healthier, more effective ways to communicate:
- Give feedback. e.g. So what I hear you saying is…
- Ask for feedback. e.g. Does this make sense?
- State your position clearly and concisely.
- Try not to “mind read” or guess what the other person is saying. Always check out your hunch.
- Take a “time-out” when things are not getting resolved; however, commit to coming back to the subject within 24 hours.
- Choose an appropriate time to talk.
I hope these ideas will be of help to you as you work to improve your communication skills. With practice and awareness, understanding one another becomes much more attainable.
Hazel Field Melmed, LCSW, has been a member of The Therapist Group at Maria Droste Counseling Center for 21 years. She specializes in working with individuals and couples, helping them deal with relationship issues, depression, life transitions, and trauma. She teaches stress reduction techniques and uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming) and EFT ( Emotional Freedom Techniques).