When it comes to relationships, most people want similar things; that is, to feel heard, understood, supported and seen. Unfortunately, we often communicate in ways that led to a feelings of disconnection rather than connection, confusion rather than clarity, and arguments rather than resolutions.
So, here are some tips that might help you become a better communicator and listener.
When listening try these things:
Do not interrupt
Reflect what you heard
What I heard you say is…..
I understand that…..
Did you say?
Do not correct what the person said, reflect back and make sure they felt heard
Is there anything else you think is important for me to know?
Did I miss anything
Is there something you need from me right now?
Allow your body language to reflect that you are listening
Try not to cross your arms
Make eye contact
Nod your head
When speaking try these things:
Take responsibility for your experience and feelings
Do not attack or blame the other person (try not to use the word, “you”)
Focus on what it is working
Ask if the listener needs clarification
Use I statements: (these should be short and specific)
1. “I feel like___ (taking responsibility for one's own feelings)
2. “I don't like it when__ ” (stating the behavior that is a problem)
3. “because____” (what it is about the behavior or its consequences that one
objects to; that is, the belief and unmet need)
4. “Can we work this out together?” (be open to working on the problem together)
"I feel angry when I am criticized because it makes me feel misunderstood.
1. I feel angry (responsible for feeling)
2. when I am criticized (stating the problem behavior)
3. because it makes me feel misunderstood (the belief and unmet need
4. What I need is for us both to support each other (working together)
"I feel sad when I don’t hear from you because it makes me feel disconnected from you"
1. I feel sad (responsibility for feeling)
2. when I don’t hear from you (stating the behavior that is a problem; note: in this case the speaker uses the word you; however without blaming…a blaming statement would be, I feel sad because you did not call)
3. because I feel invisible and disconnected
4. what I need is to experience us as connected
At first this type of communication can feel awkward. It will take practice. Perhaps starting with someone close (e.g., a partner or best friend) who also wants to work on being heard, seen and understood as well as hearing, seeing and understanding.
Remember your intention and be gentle with yourself (and others) when as you try new things.
****If you need help in learning how to communicate more effectively, contact Thrive Psychological Associates at 305-815-8558. We are here to listen, support and help you thrive towards the relationships and life you desire.