Communication is key. Things are a hell of a lot easier when there's clear, consistent and respectful communication. Whether it's at home, at work, while you're on the field or in the bedroom, communication is key. It also doesn't come naturally to a lot of people. Some of us aren't taught, others have their guard up because of shit that's happened in the past, it could even just be the way we've been wired from the time we are young. Hearing things like "man up, boys don't cry!" and other bullshit that doesn't help us when it comes to communicating our thoughts and feelings.
WISDOM - ADVICE - PERSPECTIVE
for CONQUERING COMMUNICATION
Hopefully some of the things I cover in this blog will give you a different perspective and maybe even help you feel more comfortable and confident on your quest to conquer communication.
People can't read minds and you shouldn't expect them to. It's really that simple. If you're not willing to discuss something with someone, you can't expect them to just read your mind. What seems obvious to you might not be so obvious to someone else.
The bedroom is off limits. There's a time and a place to initiate important and potentially uncomfortable conversations and the bedroom isn't one of them.
Ask the other person if they have the space to participate in a conversation with you. This is key in your professional and your personal life because it's important to respect peoples space and be mindful of what they have going on instead of just bombarding them with whatever it is you want to get off your chest. The last thing you want to do is initiate a conversation when the other person is up to their eyebrows in stress or other things that could distract them or effect their attention, reaction or communication. Set a time that works for both of you to have the chat without interruptions or distractions.
Don't talk on an empty stomach An article from https://brightside.me/ explains why, stating: "Researchers have proven that hunger makes us less composed. It happens because self-control requires energy, which is in short supply when the stomach is empty."
Choose a neutral environment If you're having the conversation with a partner, friend or family member. This can be somewhere like the living room, over coffee, or even while you're out for a walk can be great. If you aren't able to be in the same place as the person try via video chat or phone call instead of texting or an email, this helps to eliminate as many barriers as possible.
Don't be an asshole. If someone is trying to communicate by asking you "what's wrong?" and you say, "nothing." when there's clearly something, it's just passive and doesn't do anything helpful for either of you. If you're not ready to talk about something then simply state it. You could say im feeling __________ and I will let you know when i'm ready to discuss it.
Don't drop subtle hints or beat around the bush. Instead, just ask for what you want or need.
Use I-statements. I-statements are important because when you use them you are able to own your shit and explain your feelings without placing blame, this means you actually need to take time to think about how you're feeling and what you need. A really simple formula for using I-statements can look like this: I feel ________ because/ when ________ what I need is ________ Example: I feel stressed out because you showed up at 7 when we agreed on 6. I need you to stick to the plan or give me a call if you're going to be late so I can make other arrangements. You can also use this can use this approach:
The behaviour ________the effect ________ the feeling ________ Example: When you don't call to let me know that you're running behind I don't get a chance to make other transportation arrangements and it makes me feel anxious and embarrassed when I'm constantly late.
You might notice that both of the examples require you to express your feelings and this is because being able to talk about your feelings is absolutely necessary if you want to become better at communicating and have successful conversations.
Take some time to examine your feelings and name them accordingly. Letting people know your feelings can be scary, intimidating, or uncomfortable. If someone is taking the step to be vulnerable and communicate with you, let them know you appreciate it! It's really encouraging when our efforts are recognized and appreciated especially when we are trying to become better at something.
Avoid using accusatory language such as "you never" or "you always".When someone tells us what we "always" do it can makes us feel attacked or defensive which doesn't make conversing a pleasant experience. Another word that is helpful to leave out is "but" because when someone hears that word it cancels out whatever the person said before it. Instead, try using the word "and".
Remember, their feelings are their feelings regardless of if you agree with them. If someone is feeling a feel... don't try and minimize it. It's a better idea to validate their feelings and let them know you hear them and they are entitled to their feelings.
Listen to understand, not to respond. Treat the person you're talking to like an alien that you want to get to know more about. Get curious about their story and feelings instead of worrying about what you're going to say in response. Its OK to take a moment to gather your thoughts when they are finished speaking and It can be really helpful to ask yourself if your response is for you or for them. You don't need to make everything about you and you don't need to be able to relate to every single story you hear. When we flip someone's story to talk about our own it can make the person feel like you're making it about you instead of acknowledging the experience they are sharing with you. If you feel overwhelmed by a conversation and dont have a response, simply say that you are thinking about what to say. Giving the silent treatment isn't an acceptable form of communication.
Know what you want. When you go to someone with a problem it can be really helpful to have and idea of what needs to happen in order to fix it. Depending on the situation you may already know what needs to happen in order to fix the problem or you might need to brainstorm ideas with the person you're having the conversation/problem with. When you take time to learn effective communication skills those conversations can become a lot easier.
Take time to cool off. If things are getting heated and you're arguing more than you're problem solving it might be a good idea to sleep on it. I know people always preach "never go to bed angry!" But It's not always practical to stay up and figure things out, especially when one or more people involved in a conversation/disagreement don't have the capacity to continue it. Sleeping on it may be a good idea to process your feelings and gain clarity on what some solutions to the problem/argument may be. You never know, re-assessing the situation when you've had some time to rest and maybe even rationalize what's going on can be super helpful. If you need to take a time out from the conversation take a deep breath, let the person know and then agree on a time to resume.
*If you can't get through a certain problem or situation then you may want to seek the professional help*.
Fight fairly. No one is perfect. People fight and communication is hard. It's not about how many times you fight, it's about how you fight. Name calling, bullying, and abuse of any kind is not a way to become a better communicator and should be addressed ASAP.
When you learn and practice applying good communication skills it becomes a lot easier to approach others with concerns, thoughts, ideas and questions. The key is actually using your words effectively instead of expecting someone to read your mind, being rude for no reason (that the other person knows of) or just ignoring them or the problem and letting resentment and frustration build.
Don't forget that people can't correct things they are unaware of! Not everyone is equipped with great communication skills and it's quite common (and frustrating) when we are approached in ways that make us feel like we're under attack. If someone brings something to your attention, even if its in a way that lacks grace remember that they are:
a) Being upfront, honest and potentially vulnerable with you.
b) Giving you a chance to correct, explain or become aware of something that is bothering them.
c) Probably oblivious of everything you've just read in this blog.
Hopefully if this happens you can remember to take a deep breath, thank them for bringing it to your attention and incorporate things you've learned from this blog into the rest of the conversation with them.