Developing Healthy Communication Strategies
Being able to communication is vital to expressing ourselves and developing relationships. When we struggle to communicate, we often do not have our needs met and this can have detrimental effects on our mental health and relationships.
It’s important to remember that all individuals, groups and organisations communicate by sharing ‘meaning’ between each other. Communicating is a two-way process, as it is also about being understood and actively listening to the other person. A relationship is present when communicating and determines the type of communication between two people.
What is Poor Communication?
When we engage in poor communication this can lead to negative consequences, such as the distortion of goals and objectives, conflict, and loss of motivation. The most frequent barriers to communication include:
Lacking clarity: Abstract, overly-formal language, colloquialisms, and jargon, can obscure your message more than they serve to impress people.
Using stereotypes and generalizations: Senders who make unqualified generalisations undermine their own clarity and credibility.
Jumping to conclusions: It’s important to make sure you have all the information you can get, and then speak clearly about the facts versus the meanings or interpretations you attach to those.
Dysfunctional responses: Ignoring or not responding to a comment or question quickly or responding with an irrelevant comment undermines effective communication. Likewise, interrupting others while they are speaking also creates a poor environment for communication.
Lacking confidence: Shyness, difficulty being assertive, or low self-worth can hinder your ability to make your needs and opinions known.
Positive Communication Strategies
Some positive communication strategies I suggest in order to have effective communication are:
Active Listening: Active listeners make good communicators. They show interest in what the other person is saying by nonverbal cues, good eye contact, and remembering what was said.
Sharing your emotional reaction to the communication: Everyone’s attitudes and feelings must be known, respected, and understood. If they aren’t shared, the relationship won’t be open or growing.
Paying attention to non-verbal messages, without letting yourself be distracted: Notice body language and non-verbal cues to allow for a richer understanding of the speaker’s point.
Be empathetic: Imagine how you would feel in their circumstances. Be empathetic to the feelings of the speaker, while maintaining a calm centre within yourself.
Ask questions: Use questions to clarify your understanding, as well as to demonstrate interest in what is being said.
Paraphrase: If you don’t have any specific questions to ask, you may choose to repeat back to the speaker, in your own words, what you have taken away, in order to allow the speaker to clarify any points.
If you practice these strategies, you can avoid detrimental communication and foster good communication in all your interactions with others.