Good communication skills are important in almost every area of our lives. Whether it is with our friends, family, partners or co-workers, being able to effectively communicate about feelings and issues is important. Communication is a skill that takes time and practice to get good at. After many years of therapy and personal development, I have collected tips that I keep in the back of my mind when having those hard conversations. Although I am not perfect and I still have moments where I forget these tips, they have drastically improved the way I communicate with those I care about.
“I feel…” Statements
The first tool I learned from an early age is using “I feel…” statements. These are basically the blueprint for bringing up any feelings you may have to someone. “I feel” should be followed with an emotion for it to be most effective. You may be thinking that you already practice this but it is a little different than just blurting out how you feel. The purpose of these “I” statements is to not blame the other person and prevent them from becoming defensive rather than having an open line of communication. It also prevents arguing because people can argue to defend themselves but they cannot argue with your own emotions.
Setting the Conversation
Now that we know how to verbalize how we are feeling, let’s talk about when and how to bring up the conversation. Another tip I learned from Dr. Emily Morse, the host of Sex With Emily, when it comes to talking is “timing, turf and tone.” In terms of turf, the best place to have these conversations is in casual settings when you are both alone and relaxed. When it comes to timing, Dr. Emily also came up with the acronym “H.A.L.T.” This acronym stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Basically, if you are feeling any of this four emotions, it is not the best time to be having a serious conversation because you are not in a clear headspace. Effective communication comes when everyone involved is calm, so it is okay to walk away from a situation that is making you feel emotional.
Effective communication is a building block for most important relationships we experience. None of us are going to be perfect the first time we try to put these tips into practice, but being mindful of them is a good place to start!