Life is better when we feel listened to. But communication can be a tricky thing. our Our Registered Psychologist (Provisional) Murray Heintz makes it easy with some helpful advice to help you communicate and listen better.
Not being listened to is a common complaint people experience in their personal and professional relationships. However, communicating with others involves more than just talking and waiting for our turn to speak while thinking about what we want to say.
There are subtle ways to improve our communication skills to ensure we feel heard and validated. Andrew Grimmer (2013) has identified some useful skills to improve communication:
1. Talk from your perspective. Talk about your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and needs. Talk about yourself (use “I”) and avoid you-statements. Avoid making “I” statements that are actually demands, criticisms, or accusations.
2. Self-disclose feelings. Open up emotionally and communicate what you feel. Use simple words to describe your underlying emotions. Describe your wants and needs directly in the knowledge that these are requests, not rights.
3. Discuss specific situations and behaviors. Talk about particular situations and behaviors. Avoid generalizations (“always, never”) and comments on the character of your partner (personality attributes).
4. Stay with the here and now. Stick to the subject you’re discussing. Don’t pull old hurts from the past. If you are doing this, you’re likely starting to feel defensive to win an argument, maintain a position of self-righteousness or justify how you feel or behaved.
1. Active listening – means paying full attention to your partner and showing interest by making brief comments or asking short questions to clarify what’s being said. Nod and look at your partner.
2. Paraphrase. Give your partner feedback that shows you’ve paid attention to what’s been said and understood its importance, especially what they said about their feelings.
3. Open-ended questions. Ask open-ended questions. If you’re unsure how your partner thinks or feels, ask ‘who, what, where, when, and why questions, rather than questions that can be answered only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
4. Defusing & admitting. If your partner makes a criticism or complaint about something they think you’ve done, or haven’t done and should have done, or that hurt or wounded them, there’s probably some truth in what they’re saying. Pause, notice your emotional state, and whatever urges you’re experiencing to retaliate or defend yourself. Acknowledge and apologize when and where necessary. Avoid ending your apology with the word “but.” Ask what you can do to help
Thanks, Murray! Excellent information.
Murray works with adults. He’d love to work with you.
Cheers to better communication and being heard,