Are You A Good Communicator?

Knowing what you think, feel and want and then being able to communicate these in a clear fashion that is respectful to self and others is a fundamental way of taking responsibility for yourself and keeping off the Drama Triangle that I introduced to you in the last two blogs. With the many books, trainings and workshops available on healthy communication, it still seems to be difficult for many.

To communicate respectfully you do need to be aware of what you want to communicate. Often one responds reactively or what I call defensively. This is a harmful and dysfunctional way of communicating and usually injuries both parties. So first and foremost slow down and take a moment to be clear about what you are thinking, feeling or wanting. Get clear.

Secondly, send your message to the other person in a respectful manner. You can do this and still say what you need to say. It is important to override any fear or guilt you have in ensuring you speak your needs with a clear voice.

When sending your message it is most important to use I statements. It is your needs you are communicating after all! You statements sound blaming and tend to put the other on the defensive. Hear the difference between these two following statements. “You were late again last night. You are so inconsiderate.” Versus, “When you were late last night I felt very hurt and frustrated. It makes me think you don’t value me.” Which one would you be more receptive too?

Another point I want to make about how you send your message is to pay attention to your non-verbal communication. Your body language goes a long way in communicating to the other. Make sure you are displaying an open posture. Eye contact and facial expressions are also important. Your non-verbal messages need to be congruent with the spoken message.

The other very critical part of communication is how you receive a message or response sent to you. We call this listening. In my many years of working with clients I have found this to be the hardest aspect to do well. Most people have never been taught how to listen respectfully. When another is sharing we are usually thinking of our own reactions rather than trying to understand that person’s perspective.

When listening try to stay focused on what the other person is sharing with you. You don’t have to agree with them, but it is important to understand their viewpoint. You can ask clarifying questions, such as, “So, are saying that you would prefer I call before I come over?” You can show you are listening by responding with empathy, “That does sound frustrating.” And before you switch the conversation over to you it would be great if you could summarize what you think the main point is that she or he has shared, just to make sure you got it. Wow all that before you share your own view point! Good communication takes education and practice, but I believe it is worth it!

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