Mental health tidbits: Good communication

Effective communication is essential to a good relationship.

Good communication in life can be tricky to get right, yet extremely important whether with loved ones, work colleagues, friends, even neighbors. All church members need good communication skills. Most of us were not fortunate enough to take a communications course, so we learn by experience. Our childhood family of origin taught us our communication style and skills as well as our school teachers. As we move into adult life and take a job, get married, raise children etc. we find ourselves often lacking this skill and not knowing how to improve our communication skills.

Ever heard of “I-Statements”? We can come across as critical without meaning to do so, which then creates road blocks to good communication. I recommend learning the skill of an “I-Statement” for a better and more effective communication. This is taken from Parent Effectiveness Training and consists of the following format: “When you (inset specific behavior observed) ________ , I feel (insert your feeling) ______ Because ___________, and I want or would like ____. An example is the following: “When you talk over or interrupt me, I feel annoyed, because I want to complete my thought first before hearing your reaction and I want us to hear one another.”

This skill is to move away from accusatory statements like “You are doing it again!” or, “You always do that” and instead replace that with the effect a behavior has had on us, especially on our feelings. It looks easy, but it is not and takes practice to do well. You will need to be in touch with your feeling evoked by another. The six primary feelings are fear, love, anger, sadness, hurt, and
happiness. Again, it will take practice to identify what you are feeling and then express it, but it is of utmost importance for your communication to be effective. I often work on developing this skill with parents and couples in my counseling practice.