Have you developed your Life Skills?
As we learned in part one, effective communication starts out with knowing and understanding yourself. I wrote about interpersonal communication barriers. We will continue to learn how to break communication roadblocks.
Communication Roadblocks: Positive ways to Break Through
- Focus on the issue. Sometimes when we are trying to work things out, past issues will get brought up. This will distract from getting the current issue settled. Try to talk through one problem at a time. Example: “I don’t like a messy bedroom. Could we talk about making the bed regularly and hanging up clothes?” instead of “The bedroom is always messy and on top of that you leave your wet towels on the bathroom floor, forget my birthday and always leave a sink full of dishes”.
- Use “I Messages”. Try to express your feelings, opinions and perspective from your point of view. The other person may see it totally differently. For example, “When you don’t tell me where you are going, I feel distrustful” instead of “You are lying to me when you don’t tell me where you are going.”
- Try not to corner a person. A cornered animal will often bite; a cornered person will often lie. So try to make the other person feel comfortable about expressing their feelings, opinions, and perspectives so you can discuss the issue openly and honestly.
- Help bring down the defensive walls. Accusing, blaming, name-calling, swearing will only make the other person put their guard up. This will inhibit real communication. Remember, we all make mistakes sometimes.
- Set Healthy Boundaries. Communication should be respectful. You do not have to be a victim. If the other person is being disrespectful, point out the exact words or behavior that is disrespectful. Then say they have a choice, either they will need to stay respectful and continue the conversation, or if it becomes disrespectful, you will leave the conversation. But then you must do it….don’t try to get in the last word if the conversation has taken a very negative turn.
- Be willing to apologize if you have done something wrong. It is important.
- Begin with Positives. Start the conversation out by pointing out some positives. Examples: “I love you”, “You are a good friend”, “I deeply respect you”, “I just want to get to know you better”.
- Find your common ground. After each side has said their piece, point out what points you both agreed upon.
- Stay calm and respectful. This reduces defensive walls.
- Brainstorm positive solutions. If you disagree, start to throw out possible solutions and ask the other person to do the same. Then start narrowing down the choices and tweaking them to fit what both people want.
- A Third party may help. If you are still having trouble communicating, try a third party that you trust. Mediator, Counselor, or trained clergy.
- Practice so you can say what you mean. If you are having trouble speaking what you want to say. Try writing it down. But take the time to think about it. Often when we are writing, we are also venting. Take the time to make sure you are truly saying what you want to communicate in a respectful way.
You have spent years developing your communication mannerisms. It will take time and practice to change. But communication is an important skill to have in all aspects of life.
I have given you a few tips to help you begin the process to be an effective communicator. Practice these methods and you should begin to have more meaningful conversations and less misunderstanding and conflict. Find more articles at www.supportivetalk.com
If you would like to read more about communication, try the below books from Amazon like Effective Communication Skills by Daniel Jones and It’s the Way you Say it: Becoming Articulate, Well-spoken and Clear. By Carol A. Fleming.