Categories: CoachingRelationships

Better Communication Skills

Do not bring up upsetting situations, recriminations, or history. Here is your chance to build trust, communicate better, and understand each other better. It will be difficult at first, but will lead to a better/happier relationship. 

          1.  Do not:

               -interrupt the other. (If you are afraid you will forget what you want to say write it down.)

               -bring up history.

               -let your body language/voice volume say one thing and your words say another.

               -blame the other; talk about how their action made you feel – not what they did. (“I feel ignored and belittled when I am told I am worthless and I shut down completely.”  Not: “You always say I am worthless.” Comment on the action and not the person. Avoid “always”, “never”, etc. Eliminate “always” and “never” from your vocabulary.

               -get sidetracked; keep to the specific subject – do not bring in or bring up anything that is not exactly on task. (“You snore, so I am grumpy in the morning” This might be true but has nothing to do with what you are discussing and is just a destructive attempt for one-upmanship.)

               -say: “You do it also…” or “Your brother also says you are…”  or  “You do the same thing to me.”

               -be defensive, argumentative or criticize.

               -say counterproductive things such as “you always promise that and you never do it .”

               -monopolize the conversation

               -tell the other what they should do, but offer suggestions/alternatives

               -consider this “exercise” a competition to see who is right

               -curse, insult or be condescending

          2.  Do:

              –make sure phones are off and “unforeseen” distractions are eliminated or ignored 

               -keep everything positive

               -respect that the other person feels strongly about their position

               -be aware of your body language and voice. Nonverbal communication is often more important than verbal.

               -maintain eye contact

               -when you are wrong quickly admit and without a rationalization

               -avoid accusations; share your feelings in a positive and non-accusatory manner; this is not a time for venting

               -show empathy (where legitimate)

               -repeat back what you believe you heard so you both understand what is said and there is no room for misinterpretation. Do not let your “baggage” interpret what the other person said. Make sure ty are both on the same track.

               -listen more than speak

               -avoid the words “always,” “never,” etc.

Before you begin:

       Spend two minutes (use a timer) with your eyes closed, concentrating on how you can make the discussion work and how to prevent yourself from sabotaging it.

Begin:

      Describe the reason for doing this, for example, “We are doing this to strengthen/renew our relationship and to restore intimacy since this is what we both desire.” 

      Start with any one of these:

– Name one thing that first attracted you to the other,

– Say one positive thing you see in the other. 

– Say something positive about what they are working on to help improve the relationship. 

– Say how they can begin to do to turn the relationship around. 

(No negative remarks are allowed, such as “You always promise to do this, but you never do, etc.)

        1.  Do not:

               -interrupt the other. If you are afraid you will forget what you want to say, write it down

               -bring up history

               -let your body language/voice volume say one thing and your words say another

               -blame the other; do speak about how their action made you feel – not what they did. (“I feel ignored and belittled when I am told I am worthless and I shut down.” Not, “you always say I am worthless.”  Comment on the action and not the person. Avoid always, never, etc.

               -get sidetracked; keep to the specific subject – do not bring in or up anything that is not exactly on the subject.

               -say, “You do it also…” or “Your brother also says you are…”  or  “You do the same thing to me.”

               -be defensive, argumentative or critical.

               -say “you always promise that and you never do it.”

               -monopolize the conversation

               -tell the other what they should do, but offer suggestions/alternatives

               -consider this “exercise” a competition to see who is right

               -do not blame the other

          2.  Do:

              –make sure your phones are off and other distractions eliminated or ignored 

               -keep everything positive (Remember the purpose is to build up the relationship – not take it down)

               -Respect that the other person feels strongly about their position. Compromise

               -quickly admit when you are wrong. 

               -avoid accusations; share your feelings in a positive and non-accusatory manner; this is not a time for venting

               -show empathy (if legitimate)

               -repeat back the statement so you are sure you both understand what is said

               -listen more than speak

               -avoid the words like always, never, etc. Avoid accusations.

               -make sure phones are off and other distractions are ignored 

           Remember that the first few times there will be glitches. Put up with frustration. It will be difficult, and it might feel forced (that is OK) You might not see immediate change. Hang in there for at least 14 days.   

      This is a “living document” so make (written) changes that suit your needs. This is a long, tedious process, but well worth it.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about knowing how to dance in the rain. Anger cannot be overcome by anger. If someone is angry with you, and you show anger in return, the result is a disaster. On the other hand, if you control your anger and show its opposite – love, compassion, tolerance, and patience – not only will you remain peaceful, but the other person’s anger will also diminish.”   

-Dalai Lama

“I am the decisive element in the classroom (relationship, etc.). It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, a child humanized or dehumanized.” 

-Haim Ginott

 Copyright© 2017 The ADD Resource Center

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