Have you ever been told that you’re horrible at communicating? Do you get a feeling that you’re not being heard or understood? Do you often leave conversations feeling frustrated that the other person just doesn’t get you? I hear people say it all the time in my Atlanta counseling office.
It can be tough to have all of those thoughts and feelings inside and not be able to get other people to understand them.
Often people who struggle with communicating tend to blame it on the other person. They’re just not listening. People don’t understand. People are just awful….but when we do this we sometimes forget to acknowledge the common denominator…ourselves.
This doesn’t mean it’s always our fault. But if we get this feedback often, or from more than one person, it’s worthwhile to take a look at it and see if there is anything we need to take ownership of, and dare I say…change.
If you are at the place where you recognize you’re a poor communicator, here are some tips I give in my Atlanta counseling office that may assist you with improving your ability to get through to others.
- Express yourself. Don’t shut down, avoid conflict, or hold it all inside. This means you’re not communicating.
- If you struggle with shutting down or holding things inside, practice communicating. Practice conflict. Do it out loud, in the car all by yourself, or in the mirror. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- If you need something from the other person in order for you to feel safe, ask for it.
- Pay attention to your body language, tone, and volume. These things speak volumes and can often times overshadow the words that are actually coming out of your mouth. And, people learn to trust their perception of them so don’t allow yourself to think they should just get over it, because that won’t get you what you want.
- Express feelings and facts, but avoid judgments or statements/thoughts that are not helpful. I teach this formula in my Atlanta counseling office: I feel insert feeling word but only a feeling, i.e.sad, disappointed, angry, lonely because insert the facts of the situation but try to avoid judgmental names or statements *now at the end, ask for a positive need meaning something they can do to assist in the moment.
- Actively listen. This includes avoiding thinking about what you’re going to say next when the other is talking. When they finish talking, summarize what you’re hearing and maybe even validate what they may be feeling. Here’s an example: “So I’m hearing you say I forgot to pay the bill last night which means we have to pay extra. I’m sure you’re frustrated and disappointed.”
These are just a few tips I give people to help with communication, and there’s so much more. But, go ahead and just start implementing. It’ll probably feel messy at first, and you’ll have some missteps. But, noone’s perfect. We all struggle with something. Let’s boldly go after personal growth!