5 Secrets of Effective Communication
Effective communication is often the cornerstone of any long-lasting relationship. But what does it mean to effectively communicate with your partner? Or rather, to effectively communicate with anyone you may have a relationship with? How should you communicate with your boss? Your friend? Your mother? Your brother? How do you choose the right words and right listening tools to end the conversation in a beneficial way? Below, we will unravel five secrets of effective communication. As a result, they will help you strengthen the relationship with yourself and others in your life.
When we hear the words "effective communication," we believe these skills to be instinctive. However, too often we take these skills and the time it takes to complete them for granted. Too often what was said from one person gets muddled or misinterpreted by the other. Thus, resulting in the loss of the true intention of the conversation as a whole. Consequently, this can lead to frustration from both parties involved. So, what is effective communication? Communication is what builds trust and respect in your relationships. Furthermore, effectively communicating can improve teamwork between your co-workers and siblings. It can help with problem solving with your partner and your kids. And, it can highly improve your social and emotional health.
Communication is not only listening and exchanging information between you and another person. Rather, it is more interactive than that. Effective communication means all people involved understand the emotions behind what was said. More importantly, they understand the intention behind what was said. Combined with conveying the message, effective communication is when everyone feels understood, heard, and respected. David E. Burns, MD from FeelingGood.com has outlined the top 5 secrets of effective communication. He starts with the easy acronym, EAR.
“E” stands for Empathy.
Empathy is the act of understanding another person’s point of view. Empathy is also understanding the individual's feelings and emotions.
“A” stands for Assertiveness.
Assertiveness enables you to explain your thoughts in a clear, concise, direct manner.
“R” stands for Respect.
Respect stands for displaying genuine care for the other person and yourself. And, respect enforces you to see the other person’s point of view as valid as one’s own.
There are a total of 5 secrets, or techniques, when trying to effectively communicate with another person. The use of EAR and the 5 techniques below are based around the practice of mindfulness and self love. Essentially, to create change in relationship, we must first create change within ourselves. And so, here are the top 5 techniques:
1) The disarming technique
When communicating, we often focus on what we want to say rather than engage in listening to our partner. The disarming technique allows you to find truth in what the other person is saying. Even if the other person’s viewpoint seems illogical, self-serving, or wrong. This prevents further conflict from escalating. You might feel yourself getting defensive after a remark or critique. Take a breath and ask yourself, "Is what he/she saying true?" Engage in listening to your partner. Break the thoughts down into simple statements and ask yourself if you can see the truth in any of what they said. Finally, practice genuinely acknowledging this truth. And, calmly agree to take the next step in finding a solution to the problem, together.
2) Thought and Feeling Empathy
Thought Empathy means understanding the content, or meaning behind their communication. And, Feeling Empathy is about connecting with the emotions behind that communication. Most noteworthy, Thought Empathy and Feeling Empathy both imply actively engaged listening. Essentially, listening to the other person’s words, thoughts, and emotions BEHIND the intention and tone of their message. Thought Empathy allows you to paraphrase what the other person said. Conversely, Feeling Empathy allows you to acknowledge how he or she must have been feeling given what was said. Thought and Feeling Empathy are not about repeating exactly what the other said. But rather, they are about trying to connect with someone in an authentic and genuine way.
This is all about asking the right questions. It is important to ask gentle questions about the situation at hand. This allows you to comprehend what is being communicated. By asking questions you do two important things. You clarify that each person understands the other. And, you invite the other person to share more about what it is that upset, angered, or concerned them.
4) “I feel” statements
This is where you get to talk about yourself and your own thoughts and feelings. Typical “I feel” statements are best structured like, “I feel _______ when ________.” Or, “I feel ________ when __________ because ________.” An example of this might be, “I feel loved when you take the time to look me in the eye when you talk to me.” Or, “I feel aggravated when I come home to dirty dishes in the sink or around the house because it is hard for me to feel peace when my environment is messy.” These statements can make all the difference when communicating with someone effectively. It makes the other person feel heard. Simultaneously, it gives you the assertiveness to direct the conversation to a possible solution. However, it is common for people to mistake “I feel” statements and use thoughts or critiques rather than feelings. Be careful about this. “I feel” statements should include feeling words such as, betrayed, angry, confused, upset. Or, other words such as, disappointed, hurt, excited, nervous, happy, or sad.
5) Affirmation, otherwise known as, “Stroking”
Affirmation or stroking implies you genuinely convey warmth, care, and respect even during the heat of a battle. First, stroking means that you convey the other person’s feelings or thoughts are as valid as your own. Rather than rolling your eyes or sighing when the other person is talking, you convey understanding. You act calm with your body language and gentle with your verbal language. Secondly, stroking entails treating the other person with respect, care, concern, and/or admiration.
Together in Combination
Most notably, the 5 secrets are the most effective when used together in combination. Using effective communication takes practice, compassion, and patience. Similarly, it is genuine, intentional, and thoughtful. It takes mindfulness to deepen the relationship between you and another person. It may take some time and a considerable amount of practice to fully activate all 5 techniques above. You will notice a significant deflation of anger and increase in conflict resolution if all 5 secrets are used together. Sometimes however, all five secrets need not be used together. It all depends on the situation. It is important to acknowledge the other person’s thoughts and feelings. This combined with using empathy, and stroking can go a long way in effectively communicating. Most importantly, the power to change lies within you. If you are willing and ready to make real, lasting relationships in your life, use these 5 techniques and you will see and feel the difference. Ultimately, you hold the power to alter the course of your relationships and the course of your life.
If you are seeking counseling in New York City, contact us today to learn more about our services!
Request a Consultation
Fill out the form below to have one of our therapists reach out to discuss consultation services in New York City.