Hi. I’m Twilynn Jourdain, a licensed psychotherapist here at Thriveworks, and I’d like to speak with you about effective communication in relationships.
We all know how important relationships are, and the key to having strong, positive relationships is our ability to communicate effectively our feelings, our thoughts and our needs.
So I’d like to give you five pointers so that when you are communicating, you come out of that conversation feeling appreciated, feeling understood, and feeling close to the person that you’re speaking with.
The first step is: Identify your thoughts, your feelings and your needs. Oftentimes, we start conversations and we’re not sure how we’re feeling. And so we set the person that’s listening up for failure as much as ourselves.
If you spend the time outside of the conversation thinking about how you feel, what you want, and what you’d like the conversation to end with, you actually get your needs met that way.
The second step would be using “I” statements. Find your own voice. Take responsibility for identifying how you’re feeling when you’re communicating. We have a tendency to talk about behaviors and not our feelings, and feelings are what connect us.
The third step to effectively communicating involves us asking for feedback. We oftentimes share our thoughts, but we don’t invite the person who is listening into the conversation. Ask how they feel about it — what they’re thinking in terms of what they think you’re asking them for. This will encourage them to open up and engage you, so that this is truly a dialogue going on.
The fourth step: non-defensive listening. So, people are very good at identifying defensive listening, but non-defensive listening involves you actually trying to hear the other person’s message, and not your own.
Listen to what it is that they are intending to say to you. When you do this, it helps them to feel connected to you. It helps them to feel as though you truly understand. And that leads us to the fifth step.
The fifth step is reflecting back what you heard. Now, this is the step where the listener is actually letting the person who initiated the conversation know what they’re taking away from the conversation.
You have a chance to share what you newly learned, what it is that you’re expecting to happen after the conversation and what it is that you’re looking for. In this way, the person who initiated conversation, as much as the listener, leaves that conversation — whether or not you agree is not what’s most important — but both of you will feel mutually understood and respected by each other.
So, there you have it: the five steps to effective communication. I look forward to helping you in terms of learning more about effectively communicating should you schedule an appointment.
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