I’ve been doing this intern thing for almost 9 months now and I’m noticing a theme, or common challenge, with many of my clients and groups. People just aren’t communicating!
Communication, or the lack thereof, can make or break a relationship. The words that we allow to flow across our lips can cut like a knife through butter and cause all kinds of emotions and thoughts to rise up in others. Lying and deceitful communication causes great heartache and mistrust. Arguing pushes loved ones away. Belittling can castrate a man and destroy the esteem of a young child. Nagging is annoying! The silent treatment and dirty looks (which is a form of communication) often make matters worse and may trigger other responses far worse than one can imagine.
When talking to a loved one, friend, co-worker, or a perfect stranger here are some practical things to remember:
Relax: Don’t be so anxious to jump into a conversation when emotions are on the rise. Better communication is accomplished when you and the other person are calm.
Remain present: For serious talks, do it where there are few distractions. Focus by putting your cell phone down, muting the tv, and turn down the noise in your head.
Check yourself: Pay attention to how you are feeling during the discussion. Notice your tone of voice, facial expressions, and watch those eyes! (Stop rolling them!) Adjust them whenever necessary. You may have to do it repeatedly as the conversation progresses.
Truth only!: Only say things that you KNOW to be true. Stay with the discussion and avoid pulling in the past, using generalities (always, never, “everyone thinks”, etc.), and insulting the other person.
LISTEN: What good is having a discussion (argument) if neither party is listening to the other? When someone is speaking, give them the courtesy to finish their statement. Listen, truly listen, to what they are saying. Repeat it back to them and check to see that you UNDERSTAND what they said before moving on with your statement. This, I’ve found, is one of the biggest challenges that I find in married couples, especially.
Agree to disagree: Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer. We are all governed by our own, or someone else’s opinion (catch it!). If you can’t agree, find a common ground and stand on that. Even if it’s to simply agree that you both disagree with one another.
Effective communication can quickly get you and the other person on the road to clarity and recovery (if need be). It’s hard sometimes, I know. But, the outcome is golden!
Stay Up people!