Good communication is imperative for the long-term success of any relationship. But what makes for effective communication?
Consciousness is required for effective communication. The goal is being aware of the impact of your words by choosing them consciously, thoughtfully.
The following communication tips are effective and recommended for maintaining the health of every relationship, including your parents, children, siblings, significant other, roommates, bosses, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.
- Be Impeccable With Your Word
This is a measure of your integrity; of being honest, forthcoming, trustworthy, reliable, and honorable. Are these qualities you want to be known for? Do you want to be the kind of person people can count on? Do you want your “word” to count for something?
We all know that things happen that interfere with our responsibilities, plans and schedule. For some people, this happens more often than not. Speak from the reality of your life, schedule, obligations/responsibilities and plans.
Be aware of your promises, explicit or implied. Don’t speak from your intentions, unless you state that explicitly. For example, if you say “I’ll try to do that today” you’re speaking from your intention, as opposed to saying “I will do that today” which implies a promise.
Using phrases like I will try… I will do my best… and It is my intention…will eliminate hard and fast expectations and promises.
Promises create expectations which when broken lead to disappointment, resentment and mistrust. These things aren’t easy to get over, especially if they happen regularly.
- Ask For What You Need
We all have needs. Many times we need things from other people but don’t ask because:
- We are too afraid to ask due to fear of loss (of person, job, security, respect, love, appearing weak, etc.).
- We don’t feel worthy enough to ask or worthy of receiving/getting our needs met.
- We may not know what we need and how can we expect to get it if we don’t know what it is?
Most people need to feel loved, secure, supported, listened to, respected, and appreciated, but not everyone is conscious of this.
Don’t assume the other person knows what you need. If you don’t ask, you’d better adjust your expectations because you will experience frustration with them when they don’t provide you with what you need.
Realizing you need help and asking for it isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength, courage, self-respect, and self-worth. Everyone deserves to get what they need.
Don’t tell the other person what they’re not doing; instead, tell them “I need you to …” and if possible, tell them why. Generally, they will actually feel good being able to help. People like to feel needed!
- Leave Notes
Do you live with someone who doesn’t want to be spoken to the minute they get home? (My brother is like this, and so was my dad. if I understood this back then I could have helped my mom!) Or do you work with someone who you can’t speak to before they have their morning coffee?
As you think of them, write down the things you need to tell or ask them. Leave it in a highly visible and consistent place for them to see when they get home or get into work.
Be specific; give directions and details if necessary. Make it easy for them to not have to think. And be aware of their needs, schedule and responsibilities. This provides positive outcomes for all parties involved.
- It will take the burden off of you to remember what you need to say or ask them. It also will keep any “negative” feelings from lodging in your body by carrying it around all day. Write it down and let it go.
- The other person can read it in their time; when they’re ready to receive, as they may assume it’s ‘bad’ or that they’re being asked to do something unpleasant, difficult, or time consuming. [To avoid creating this feeling of dread, intersperse thank you notes (and love notes, if applicable), at random intervals.]
Look for things the other person does without being asked: this is positive reinforcement. When I taught, I gave out pencils that said “I got caught being good.” I wouldn’t choose the word ‘good’ – it’s too general and subjective. If I had influence over the manufacturers I would choose to be more specific with the words helpful, kind, considerate, or cooperative. I suggest you use these when you can’t be specific.
Positive reinforcement, especially if it’s unexpected, is a great method of behavior modification/conditioning. Being specific with positive reinforcement does what it implies; it reinforces and therefore, insures the positive behavior will be repeated!
- The note should contain please, thank you and smiley faces, along with conscious phrasing as to not be attacking, blaming, accusing or demanding, as it might be if it bursts out of you the moment they walk through the door.
We teach our children manners and politeness markers but overall, once we grow up, many people seem to stop using them regularly. (Because it’s no longer required?)
Here is a note I recently left for my brother. “When you have time, would you please move your TV and cooler back against the wall (in the garage), so I could put what I need access to on top and in front of it. Thanks. J”[It was done within two days!]
Notice, I gave him flexibility with his schedule, asked with a ‘please,’ expressed my needs, and thanked him in advance with a smiley face.
Communication is an essential part of any relationship. By being conscious of your language and timing, you can insure success in every relationship.
Michele Goldstein is a Spiritual-Interfaith Minister, life counselor, former teacher, writer, gratitude-junkie, and founder of Return Love.
Her mission is to share her unique message of healing, evolving perception, and the end of suffering derived from her own personal growth journey.