Communication is a fundamental component of all relationships. Regardless of the type of relationship, parent-child, platonic, romantic or business, communication is essential to letting others know what you want and need. In the technology era, communication is instantaneous, we can send a text message, email, tweet, call, skype, facetime, Facebook, etc. Although these modes of communication let others know what we want and need, sometimes content and context can be misunderstood, which in turn creates a barrier to effective communication. Effective communication is defined by:
1) Communication that is honest and open
2) Communication in which the needs are met for both sender and receiver
3) Communication which is respectful in nature
4) Communication in which there is the absence of arguing and fighting
Basic communication involves a sender and a receiver. There are two forms of communication, which are verbal and non-verbal. In verbal communication, a message is sent verbally, the receiver interprets the message and then responds to the sender. In non-verbal communication, the sender sends a message through his or her body language (i.e. eyes, hand gestures, body posture/position, and noises). In addition to the two forms of communication, there are four communication styles.
1) Passive communication conveys feelings of being ignored, unimportant, and disrespected
2) Assertive communication conveys feelings of respect and suggests a win-win solution
3) Aggressive communication conveys feelings of hurt, hostility, and anger, ‘it’s my way or the highway’ type of an attitude.
4) Passive-aggressive communication tends to displace the intended message to someone else.
As the holidays approach, we should ponder the idea of how we each communicate with friends and family. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and thus becoming easily distracted and pre-occupied, do you find that you don’t have time to listen? Is it stonewalling because everybody wants something from you? Is it warm, open and inviting? Or standoffish, passive or aggressive? We all have needs and wants; however, if we are not communicating clearly, then that gives rise to arguments, tension, and fighting. When our messages are ignored, misinterpreted, or dismissed, we may feel frustrated, hurt, confused, annoyed, and many other emotions. But how do we communicate effectively so that our message is heard?
1. Know what you want and need from the other person
2. Use language that is respectful and uplifting
3. Speak to the person with limited distractions (put the cell phones away, turn the T.V off)
4. Take turns listening and speaking
5. Avoid using you-messages as these suggest blame and the receiver may become defensive. For example, you never listen to me, or you always do this.
6. Use I-messages instead of you messages. I-messages communicate how the other person’s behavior or lack of is affecting you. I- messages also communicates your feelings. For example, “I feel disrespected when I am trying to talk with you and you are texting”. Or “I get worried when I don’t hear from you for a long period of time”.
7. When communicating a need, use the sandwich method. Positive-need-positive. For example, honey, I really value our time together, I feel neglected when you continue to do work home during dinner time, I miss talking to you”.
During the holiday season, tension and stress levels are high. As a result, miscommunication can occur which leads to a break down in relationships. At SWFCC we have qualified counselors to help you to improve your communication skills. Call today to schedule an appointment.