Communicating in Relationships – Part 2
Troubleshooting For Problems in Communication
Control or Power Issues: Effective communication cannot take place if one person has “control” over the other or where there is not mutual respect and equality of relationship. To stay in control leads to relational isolation as the underdog reacts in anger at being manipulated or belittled.
Triangulation: Do not bring in a third party to avoid direct confrontation. If you have a problem with someone, go directly to that person. Don’t dump your accusations on mutual friends or your children in the hope of winning support to balance the scales in your favour – it leads to more substantial and long-lasting damage, especially when a child is used as a weapon between parents.
19 Steps to Effective Communication
1. See communication as an opportunity to praise, build-up, affirm, heal, support and give positive reinforcement, rather than to correct, criticise, tear down, hurt, wound, lash out at. Praise opens doors to further communication, while criticism shuts them down.
2. Remember that actions speak louder than words; non-verbal communication usually is more powerful than verbal communication. Avoid double messages in which the verbal and the non-verbal messages convey something contradictory. (Credibility gap)
3. Define what is important and stress it; define what is unimportant and de-emphasise or ignore it. Avoid fault-finding.
4. Communicate in ways that show respect for the other person’s worth as a human being. Avoid statements which begin with the words “You never” or “I think you”.
5. Be clear and specific in your communication. Avoid vagueness.
6. Be realistic and reasonable in your statements. Avoid exaggeration and sentences which begin with “You always”.
7. Test all your assumptions verbally by asking if they are accurate. Avoid acting until this is done.
8. Recognize that each event can be seen from different points of view. Avoid assuming that other people see things like you do. (Perception)
9. Recognize that your family members and close friends are experts on you and your behaviour. Avoid the tendency to deny their observations about you, especially if you are not sure.
10. Recognize that disagreement can be a meaningful form of communication. Avoid destructive arguments.
11. Be honest and open about your feelings and viewpoints. Bring up all significant problems even if you are afraid that doing so will disturb another person. Speak the truth in love. Avoid sullen silences.
12. Do not put down and/or manipulate the other person with tactics such as ridicule, interrupting, name-calling, changing the subject, blaming, bugging, sarcasm, criticism, pouting, guilt-inducing, etc. Avoid the one-upmanship game.
13. Be more concerned about how your communication affects others than about what you intended. Avoid getting bitter if you are misunderstood.
14. Accept all feelings and try to understand why others feel and act as they do. Avoid the tendency to say, “you shouldn’t feel like that.”
15. Be tactful considerate and courteous. Avoid taking advantage of the other person’s feelings.
16. Ask questions and listen carefully. Avoid preaching or lecturing.
17. Do not use excuses. Avoid falling for the excuses of others.
18. Speak kindly politely and softly. Avoid nagging yelling or whining.
19. Recognize the value of humour and seriousness. Avoid destructive teasing.
As you look ahead to new relationships, you need to be able to break old and faulty communication patterns to allow for healthier interaction. The use of praise and positive reinforcement will reconstruct wounded and broken self-images and will build self-esteem, particularly in children. By becoming an effective communicator, you will also grow and become a better person which will positively enhance all your relationships.