Updated: Mar 31
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
We all have conversations each and every day with a wide range of people in our various roles, responsibilities, and social circles.
Regardless of whether you are talking to your partner, family member, boss, coworker, friend, or some other contact, you can draw on positive communication strategies to help your conversation go as smoothly as possible. These tips prove even more valuable for challenging discussions, whether or not these interactions are anticipated or take you by surprise.
See below for some ideas that might appeal to you in your daily life.
Create a welcoming, supportive environment
To start off on a good note, ensure you are doing what you can do to develop a positive communication space where both sides can feel heard, respected, and valued. Be open-minded, keep grounded, and stay focused on the topic of discussion.
As hard as this can be to do, try not to think about what you are going to say while the other person is conveying their thoughts. Intently listen to the other person and reiterate what you think you’ve heard.
They will appreciate that you aren’t interrupting them the second you have a chance and that you are trying to make sure you are interpreting everything correctly. This will help them feel comfortable as the conversation continues to evolve.
Clarify if you are understanding them correctly
Asking for feedback can go a long way to ensure you are both on the same page. Checking in with the other person to see if you are on the right track can help make the conversation more smooth and positive.
Focus your attention on the other person
The person you are speaking to will appreciate you giving them your undivided attention, if possible. Try to prevent yourself from checking your phone while you are having an important conversation. Put your phone away, turn it off, mute it - do whatever you can to minimize distractions. The same approach goes for your computer- turn off the screen or computer if you can.
Of course, if you are expecting an important message, then you can let the person you are talking to know that you may be interrupted regarding an urgent matter.
Explain your thoughts and perspective in a clear and concise way
Reflect on your approach when it is your turn to share your thoughts. Sticking to your main and most important points and keeping things brief will help the person follow your train of thought more easily without getting lost in all of the details.
Ask open-ended questions
Instead of asking closed-ended questions, such as “Did you…?”, “Could you….?”, “Have you…?”, use explore open-ended questions instead. For example, “how about…?”, “what do you think about….?”, etc. are some ideas as a starting point.
This simple change will shift the conversation to be more flexible.
Observe your body language
Eye contact, tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expressions, posture are all important factors conveying your interest, mood, perspective, and willingness to collaborate with the other person.
If your hands are balled into fists, your eyebrows are furrowed, your tone is frustrated, and you have tense hand gestures, the conversation - and connection - may be shut down.
It is hard to have an objective discussion if one (or both) people are agitated and not willing to see the other person’s side. Try to remain as calm, neutral, and open as possible.
When discussing difficult feelings and emotions, try to use language that focuses on how you feel in certain situations or circumstances, rather than indicating how the other person is not meeting your expectations.
Expressing your own needs - rather than focusing on how the other person’s behaviours, words, and approach are upsetting you- might help the other person feel less attacked. This allows for a more constructive interaction.
Try to stay calm and try not to take your frustration out on the other person
It’s easy to get angry and upset when you are in the middle of a tense discussion. Try to take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on the conversation at hand. Stay objective, as this can help you reach a more positive outcome.
Be empathic rather than telling the other person what to do
Unsolicited advice is not often accepted well by others. Your time is best spent trying to demonstrate your understanding of and compassion towards the other person.
Use one or more of the above strategies to help you reach a successful outcome at the end of the interaction. And, if you find you are already practicing some of them, challenge yourself to try a new tip in your next important conversation.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
If you would like to read more articles, click on the ‘Blog’ option in the menu bar at the top of the Meaningful Independence website.
If you are an adult in Ontario or Alberta seeking online therapy and you would like to request a free 15 minute phone consultation with Meaningful Independence, please Book An Appointment or reach out directly under the Contact page.
#selfimprovement #self #life #relationships #communication #positivecommunication #healthycommunication #communicationstrategies @MeaningfulIndependence @imeaningfulcom #meaningfulmessages #socialworkblog #onlinecounselling #virtualcounselling #ontariotherapists #torontotherapists #albertatherapists