Effective Communication Skills

As our clinic has a strong focus on psychoemotional health especially in the realm of relationship breakdowns and the impact that has on health, one of the key issues that tends to appear is ineffective communication skills. This article will provide you with simple tools to get your point across and most importantly – be heard.

The techniques covered in this article are all from the excellent book “Non Violent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. It is highly recommended that you read the complete book as this summary only skims the surface of the techniques taught in the book.

It is often a complaint that one party will voice dissatisfaction towards an action, behaviour or pattern that their partner portrays and frustration mounts when there is no feedback, reciprocation or change administered. Such small things can snowball or become a breaking point in any relationship.

Often it is not because the offending party does not want to comply but simply because the phrasing, words and tone are expressed in such a way that there is confusion in the message.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or Emotional Quota) plays a large role in all relationships. Those that have a higher EQ tend to be able to pick up on distress and work through it with their partners however EQ is not something we all have nor it is something that is nurtured until very recently. A prime example (as a generalisation) can be seen in males over the age of 30 that have trouble expressing their emotions. It is not that they do not wish to speak, it is simply because they were never given the tools, vocabulary or encouragement to do so in their youth.

So how can you get your point of view across, be heard and not offend anyone in the process? Try the following steps:

1) Observation

2) Feelings

3) Needs

4) Requests

Approach the situation with observation first. This is a statement without emotions attached. Follow this with how it makes you feel, what your needs are and a request as to how to get those needs fulfilled.

For example, a teacher confronting a student:

1) Observation: You have been late to class four times this week.

2) Feelings: This makes me feel frustrated.

3) Needs: Because I need to get class started in order to cover all the content.

4) Requests: I would like you to arrive on time.

By stating the observation without applying emotions, it is not an evaluation and allows the person you are having a word with to understand that you are coming from a rational point of view.

When speaking of feelings, use a larger vocabulary to truly express the impact these actions are making on you.

Needs and requests should be reasonable and achievable. Do not be unreasonable and always hear what the other party has to say in response.

This technique may not guarantee a resolution to your problem however it does allow your point of view to be stated and should hopefully open the dialogue to fixing the issues.

Try it the next time you need to express your thoughts.

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