5 Pathways To Healthy Communication, Or How To Use Your Voice And Be Heard

image - Flickr / Alex Akopyan
image – Flickr / Alex Akopyan

Communication is the key to any good relationship. Without it, our deepest needs, desires, and feelings are neglected. There is a healthy way and an unhealthy way to communicate. Unhealthy communication usually leads to arguing; arguing in which slams the door on effective expression and empathetic listening. Not only does arguing halt communication, it hinders the possibility of a resolution. Here are five pathways to healthy communication; how to use your voice and be heard:

1. Speak in first person

Avoid “you” in the conversation. Reframe your speaking using “I”. When you neglect to speak in first person, the one you are communicating with automatically becomes defensive. Healthy communication does not involve blaming. If you want to be heard, keep the conversation self-directed; this is about you…your needs, your feelings, and your desires. “I need to talk to you” works much better than “You need to listen”.

2. Name the observable behavior

Think about the problem at hand and the point in which you’d like to get across. Try starting the conversation with “when I notice you”, following it with an observable behavior.

For means of an example, let’s use “When I notice you breaking plans”.

3. Explain how it affects you

Following the observable behavior, describe how it makes you feel. Again, this conversation is about you. Done correctly, it allows you to address the problem and get your needs met in a healthy and effective way.

To elaborate: “When I notice you breaking plans, it makes me feel unimportant”.

4. State what you need

Once you have stated the problem and described how it makes you feel, the next step is to ask for what you need. Before beginning this conversation, you should write out the problem, your feelings surrounding it, and what you want from this person in return. A good starter for this step is “I would like it if”, followed by your request.

Let’s put it together: “When I notice you breaking plans, it makes me feel unimportant and I would like it ifyou made it a point to spend more time with me.”

5. Listen openly and be receptive

Once you have had the opportunity to address the issue, give the other person a chance to speak. Just because you have communicated in a healthy manner, doesn’t mean their response will follow suit. If they begin to get defensive, take a step back. Let them know you are not trying to start an argument, only hoping to resolve a problem. If they persist, walk away. Return to the conversation once the other person has had an opportunity to calm down. If they respond favorably, direct all of your attention to listening. Try to understand the reasoning for their behavior and the feelings in which fuel it. Give them the floor and allow them to finish. When you have listened to their response with empathy, ask them what they need from you in order to accomplish your original request.

When we use our voice, share our feelings, and state our needs – we encourage others to do the same. Being a good communicator is equal parts speaking and equal parts listening. Never begin a conversation, continue a conversation, or end a conversation with anger. Calmness and clarity is essential. Healthy communication is the gateway for healthy relationships.

Once you have stated the problem and described how it makes you feel, the next step is to ask for what you need. Before beginning this conversation, you should write out the problem, your feelings surrounding it, and what you want from this person in return. A good starter for this step is “I would like it if”, followed by your request.

Let’s put it together: “When I notice you breaking plans, it makes me feel unimportant and I would like it if you made it a point to spend more time with me. TC mark

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