Communication is most effective when each of you are able to:
- Stay calm even when your topic is a difficult one. Use deep breathing and exhale fully. Try breathing in and counting to 7 and out for 11 counts to keep yourself focused and calm.
- Get clear on what you want to talk to your partner about. (You can substitute “partner” w. child, parent, friend, boss etc.)
- Choose one topic and stay on task.
- Your aim is to have your partner understand you.
- Talk about what you are thinking, feeling and what your beliefs are.
- Be honest and open to learn new things about yourself.
- Talk about why the topic is important to you.
- Don’t shift your focus by talking about your partner. You want to talk about how the topic/problem relates to you. You make it easier for your partner to really listen to you when you don’t throw blame in the mix.
A very important part of communicating effectively is active listening:
- Stay calm even when your partner’s topic concerns you. Use 7/11 breathing as described above.
- Decide that you want to learn about your partner.
- When your partner talks don’t interrupt.
- Be aware of your body-language. (About 85 % of communication is non-verbal).
- Show that you are listening but say very little. Eye contact, nodding etc.
- Recap what you are hearing your partner saying. “I hear that you are saying that . . . .”
- Ask questions to understand better.
- Don’t jump to solutions too early in the discussion. You want to make sure you have heard and understood everything your partner wants to tell you.
- Don’t lecture or confuse your partner. Instead help your partner.
Communication is ineffective when you blame, nag, call your partner names, withdraw emotionally or walk out – to name a few.
Try this: Write down what you do when you are at your worst. Don’t put yourself down about it – we all do things under stress that we are not proud of. But when you are aware of what you are doing you actually have a chance of changing your responses.
- Tell your partner what you have learned about yourself.
- Tell your partner what you would like to be able to do instead.
- Make sure your partner knows that you appreciate that she/he is listening.
- Encourage your partner to talk about what he/she is doing when at his/her worst.
- Use humor. When you are able to laugh at yourself ( be careful not to laugh at your partner), but still take the issue very seriously- it is easier to talk about.
Do your best and remember to appreciate your best effort. Take a break if you need to, but make sure to return to discussion if you are the one requesting a short break. Or you can agree on a good time the next day.
Next post (go here) I will talk more about effective communication and how to set goals for yourself to work on.
Write a comment about your experience with this exercise!