Tag Archives: Ineffective communication

Active Listening – How to Communicate Effectively Part 2

Effective Communication Involves Active Listening

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.


Photo by Savarese. Communication is ineffective when you walk away!

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!