Tag Archives: communication

08 Jul

9 Tools for Healthy Communication

1. Communicate directly with the person.

First make sure the situation has something to do with you directly. Decide if the situation is really worth your time and energy. Then go directly to the source, and try not mentioning things to others or posting comments on social media. Be respectful by being direct. Example: “I understand that you are angry with me, can you tell me why?” Or, “I heard that you are the manager for the new department and I would like to talk with you about possible upcoming positions”.

2. Start with a genuine compliment or positive statement.

Research shows that starting a conversation with a compliment or positive comment increases receptiveness in others. “Thank you for taking time to speak with me”. Or, “I know you were very angry last night and I appreciate your willingness to talk with me today”. With a child, it might sound like: “I really like how you calmed yourself down, good job”.

3. State your needs in a clear honest way.

Clarify in your mind exactly what you are asking for and why. Communicate that in a non-defensive tone. Research shows that too many words can confuse the listener. Try to state it 2-3 sentences. For example: “I wanted to talk with you about the fight at the table last night with your brother”. Vs. “I wanted to talk to you about that terrible tantrum you had at the table last night in front of our family, when you were acting like a 3 year old and picking on your brother”. Another example might be: “I would like to talk to you about the promotion. I understand I was not a candidate and would like to know why?” Vs. “I heard so-and-so got the promotion and I was so bummed to hear that because I thought I was a better candidate”.

4. Use “I” statements.

“I feel”, “I need”, “I want”. “I” statements are about you and no one can question your feelings or needs. It also outlines the place you are coming from. Then state your need. “I felt disappointed about the fight at Christmas dinner. I really wanted everyone to get along”. Or “I would like to apply for the promotion and would like to know what I need to do”. Stay out of their backyard and away from blaming. It puts people off and makes it harder for them to hear what you want. Focus on what you would like to see happen. “I would like to advance my position and use more of my skills to help this company increase it’s sales”. Or, “I would like for us to have family meals without fighting and am wondering what you think we could do together to make that happen?”

5. Listen.

Yes, to their response. Often we have a script already running in our head about what they will say or what we need to say next. Turn that off. Make your statement, pause, take a breath and listen for their response. Be in the moment as much as possible. And let go of outcome. We can’t control others or the outcome, even if it’s with the best intentions.

6. Ask questions to clarify.

Coming into the conversation without a singular result in mind will allow for exploration and curiosity. Ask questions with an engaged curiosity. Seek to understand the other person’s perspective, their experience and their opinion.

7. Try phrasing it in a different way.

If the person does not understand what is being said, try phrasing, literally using different words. For example” “I feel like we haven’t spent any time together” (They don’t understand). Second try: I really like you and would like to spend more time together, what do you think about that?” If you are on the receiving end of communication and don’t understand what they are saying, ask for clarification. Ask for specifics. “ Can you give me an example of a time when I talked over you?”

8. Take a break if things start to get heated.

You can take a break anytime, especially if you know the next line of defense is going to be slinging hurtful insults you won’t be able to take back. Revisit it when you are both calm and level headed. Check-in with yourself to see if you missed something or maybe could try to say things in a different way. And if things can’t get resolved, try mediation or communicating through someone else, like a counselor.

9. Apologize and reconcile when possible.

They are healing acts that help move relationships forward. Some people think that apologizing is sign of weakness but it’s actually a sign of respect towards the self and others. We are after all human and fallible. Admitting that actually takes courage and emotional maturity. Some say that reconciliation and forgiveness are the most important parts of the communication process.

Resources and References


The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns

How to talk to anyone; 92 little tricks for big success in relationships by Leil Lowndes

When Anger Hurts, Quieting the Storm Within, by Matthew McKay, Ph.D., Peter D. Rogers and Judith McKay

Articles & Blog Posts:

Counseling Advice: Healthy Communication & Relationships by Amy McNamara, LMFT, CounselingPsychology.org.

The 7 Cs of Communication: A Checklist for Clear Communication on MindTools.com.

Tips for Better Communication on LoveIsRespect.org.

5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators by Susan Tardanico, Forbes.com.

14 Very Effective Communication Skills on AdvancedLifeSkills.com.

10 Effective Communication Habits of the Most Successful People, by Marcel Schwantes, Inc.com.

6 Surprising Ways to Communicate Better With Your Partner by F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W., PsychologyToday.com.

Simple, Powerful Tools for Becoming a Great Communicator on MastersinCommunication.org.


15 Nov

4 Ways Parents Can Help Their Tween or Teen

1. Talk with your kids: Keep an open dialogue about the changes that are happening to them physically, emotionally and socially. Don’t accuse but rather ask open-ended questions that will illicit thoughtful discussion by both parties. Ask your child if they have any questions you can answer for them. Don’t tease, but instead, normalize the changes. If you’re not sure how to answer a question your child is asking, try looking up the answer together. Or talk to a professional together to get the answer. If your child doesn’t like to talk, ask 1 or 2 open-ended questions and build on that when you can. Normalizing changes and situations can be very soothing for children, even if they act like they don’t need it or don’t care.

Here’s one great resource: 5 Secrets for Communicating with Teenagers
By Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC from EmpoweringParents.com.

2. Schedule family time together: Even for an hour or two. Quality is the key, not quantity. Keep routines the same and make yourself available to offer help, even if it’s driving places or hiring a tutor for a subject. Teens are launching developmentally. That means they leave (in a variety of ways) and return. This process is similar to a bird learning to fly out of the nest. Most people think that’s when a parent should leave their child alone but actually the opposite is true. Be available and spend time with your child. Stay engaged and find a way to let them know you care and are there. They need to know you are present in the relationship and that home is still a safe place to return to so they can keep trying to launch. And remember, they still need your support, even when they pushing you away. Don’t take it personally.

More about this: 3 Tips to Help Nourish the Family by Karen Atkinson on EtainLifeCoaching.com.

3. Monitor social media: Check out who is talking to whom and how your child feels about this dialogue. Ask questions to get your child’s perspective. Don’t make it about not trusting them. Tell them it’s your job to make sure everything is ok socially and to monitor it to some extent. Tell them that you care and this is important to you. That’s normal for a parent to do. If there’s a problem, listen to the problem your child is identifying and help find a solution. Ask questions. All sorts of things happen with “posting” these days including comments and pictures. What does your child post? What kinds of messages and pictures do they receive back from others? Use these situations as learning opportunities for your child. And be patient. Our generations didn’t have to deal with all of these dynamics. This is new territory for everyone.

Here’s an example: Are sitcoms harmful to children? Do they teach sassy, disrespectful behavior? What are some alternatives? from CommonSenseMedia.org.

4. Moderate the amount of violence your child gets exposed to:
Between TV, phones, iPads/Tablets, gaming consoles and computers, kids are seeing images at a record level. The amount of time children spend in front of a screen has increased, as well as the exposure to violence. What they see matters to development and how the brain processes information. Moderate what you can. Pick your battles and stand by them. It’s important to teach children boundaries, and it’s ok to limit or have them choose what they can and can’t see. These exercises are modeling for them how they will some day set boundaries for themselves. These exercises also teach them how to make choices. There is a reason why games and moves are rated. And watch little brother or sister. They can be adversely influenced and exposed at a much younger age simply because they have older siblings. It’s easy to let go in this area and checkout. But don’t. It matters.

“A 2010 review by psychologist Craig A. Anderson and others concluded that “the evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.” Anderson’s earlier research showed that playing violent video games could increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in daily life. “One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters,” says Anderson.

Here’s one reason why: Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive? from CommonSenseMedia.org


5 Secrets for Communicating with Teenagers
By Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC from EmpoweringParents.com.

How Parents Can Improve Communication with Teenagers by Dr. Steven Richfield on HealthyPlace.com.

The Parents Role on TeachingSexualHealth.ca.

Teenagers and communication on BetterHealth.vic.gov.au.

16 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook on CommonSenseMedia.org.

10 Most Violent Video Games of 2016 (and What to Play Instead) by Jeff Haynes on CommonSenseMedia.org.

Is it OK to let my kid play Minecraft for hours? on CommonSenseMedia.org.

Violence in the Media (Psychologists Study Potential Harmful Effects) on the APA.org.

Violence on TV and How It Can Affect Your Children on the Huffingtonpost.com.

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