When I coach clients on the topic of effective communication in their relationships, I realize over and over again that the simple act of speaking and listening is not simple at all. When we communicate, we often times are hearing what we want to hear. Why is this? We all have a filtration system that decifers what we hear, how we hear it, and how we experience the message. Your filter can actually inhibit you from hearing the intended message and cause feelings of increased emotional distress.
To maintain a clear and healthy filtration system:
1. Know your mood and be aware. Lets face it, when we are experiencing stress we are not quite as good at comprehending information. Managing your stress levels can help you maintain a clear communication system. Be aware of the emotional charge you may feel while listening. Research has proven that the minute our blood pressure rises in a conversation, we take in up to 80% less information. That is a very larger percentage.
2. Slow down. When we discuss difficult and/or tense topic matters our bodies may feel a charge or we are quickly trying to think of a comeback to what is being said. Slow down and know that you are capable of listening to the points of the person speaking and then expressing your own points when it is your turn as well.
3. Know your triggers. When difficult subjects are being discussed or when we feel attacked in communication, we often times feel triggered which enhances an emotional charge in the conversation. When you feel these charges try to slow down and grow awareness as to what is bothering you. You may uncover that the way the person is speaking to you triggers thoughts that you are not good enough, a failure, or perhaps a disappointment. If you know that this is being triggered, you are then able to express to the individual that “I feel like a failure when you speak to me about these things, etc.” When emotion is expressed in this manner in a heated discussion, it tends to deescalate the conversation.
4: Learn your boundaries. Knowing your boundaries and when someone is crossing them is very important in effective communication. Maintaining an assertive communication pattern has proven to be the most effective. Not asserting healthy boundaries can lead to unhealthy and destructive relationships.
These strageties may seem difficult to accomplish. Communication coaching and therapy can be very beneficial as you learn how to use these communication skills. Often times, people find it helpful to bring in the individual they are struggling communication with to sessions, so they can learn healthier ways of communication together. All it takes is learning how you are supposed to communicate and maintaining a clear filter system to achieve healthy and effective communication.