Effective communication requires the application of specific skills. These skills need to be applied and practiced.
Presence: Presence is the art of bringing ones attention to what is experienced in the here and now which facilitates a natural inner sense of connection. It provides a space where individuals feel safe, respected and equal. The ability to become ‘present’ with another is a powerful way to gain deeper understanding, a sense of connection and increase acceptance. Presence is to offer non judgemental attention in the ‘here and now’, a space which is receptive and filled with wonder.
Speaking: When you are saying what you want to share it is important to share succinctly and clearly from a space of ‘what is true for you’. If there is a reaction this will need to be processed first by applying the Empowerment Strategy
Listening: The goal of listening is to understand what the person who is speaking means by what they are saying. Listening not only involves listening to the words that are said, but also to body language such as facial expression, gestures, tone of voice which all give information and context to what is being shared. Therefore it is important to give attention and look at the person who is speaking so information is not missed. It is important when you are listening to not be thinking of what you want to say, but stay focussed on the person who is speaking. A key is to not immediately make it about you. If another has shared something remember it is about them and their experience.
Clarifying:This involves checking meaning by asking the person who has been speaking. An example of this is “It sounds as though you are saying……. is this what you mean?” Or “What I’m hearing you say is ….. is this correct?”
Paraphrasing:Is another way to check meaning. Paraphrasing means you repeat back a nutshell version what you have heard the other person say for them to agree, or add further context and meaning e.g. “So it sounds as though you are feeling…..”
The Power of Clarifying and Paraphrasing
- Paraphrasing and clarifying support another person to stay focussed on what is true for them and not embellish the story in a way that takes from it, or dramatises it
- Also give feedback to the speaker that the listener wants to hear and understand what they mean.
- Prevent incorrect assumptions being made by the listener. Remember assumptions which are mostly inaccurate become beliefs, and we feel and act according to our beliefs and thoughts
- Can also create accountability for the speaker as it gives them feedback on what they are saying. It gently passes back to them what is shared for them to be able to hear and take responsibility for what they have said.
Reflection of Feelings:To paraphrase, to reflect back what the speaker is saying about their feelings.
Reflection of Meaning:To paraphrase, to reflect back what the speaker is meaning in what they are saying.
Feedback:Feedback is giving information back to the person who has been speaking to let them know that you have heard them. Examples of feedback are clarifying, paraphrasing and body language such as nodding. If you find someone keeps telling you the same thing remember to give feedback as they may not know that you have heard them.
Open Questions:These are questions you can use to gather more information and usually begin with words such as how, what, when, where. These questions require more than a one word answer.
Closed Questions:These are great for fact finding or closing down a conversation but are not good conversation starters. They usually start with words such as is, did, are.
Foundational Conflict Resolution and Solution Finding Strategies
Guidelines: It important for both people to be reasonably calm. If you are not feeling calm it will limit your ability to be fully present, to share clearly and succinctly and to hear what the other person is meaning by what they are saying. Rather than letting a reaction control you use the Empowerment Strategy first.
- Avoid any personal attacks, blaming statements, criticising, references to past mistakes and negative based statements.
- Speak in “I” statements about what is true for you.
- It is OK for each individual to be different and to have a different opinion.
- There is no shame in recognising and accepting that we can have personal failings and make mistakes provided they are accepted as normal behaviours.
- It is important to follow through on any agreements made.
- Keep the discussion between the couple and not gossip behind the other person’s back.
- Accept that we usually do not have the ability to read the other persons mind therefore you will need to use communication skills such as listening and clarifying.
- Practice empathy. Empathy is best described as compassionate understanding.
- Deal with one problem at a time and if it is a big problem you may need to break it down in smaller ones.
- Both people are equally as important and deserve to have their say and be understood.
- If either individual becomes reactive and begins to e.g. yell, than communication needs to stop until both are calm and self responsible.
What to do!
- Ask the person who you wish to talk with if they are willing to communicate with you. If it is not an appropriate time, agree on a time to catch up.
- Each person is to take a turn at speaking. It usually only takes a few minutes to clearly express what is concerning you. When one person is speaking, the other person is actively listening. When the speaker has finished the listener clarifies to ensure they have understood what the speaker means by what they have said.
- When the first person has had their turn and feels that they have expressed what they need to and feel heard, the second person has their turn and the first person listens actively, again clarifying to ensure they have heard the correct meaning.
- After both people have had their say, language such as, “What ideas can we come up with that will work for us both?” sets the scene for the couple to work as a team to find solutions.
- When solution finding, brain storm as many ideas as possible without judging them. It may be helpful to write them down. Then combine the best options into win-win actions/solutions.
- Implement any actions.
- Review in e.g. a week or two to share feedback and trouble shoot.
- Remember to always consider short and long term consequences, both positive and negative.
For more information or to make an appointment contact Kate at Jesmry Counselling Ph: 02 60431232 Mobile: 0410046148 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org