This can help with...
- talking to people
- getting stuff off your chest
- solving arguments
- making yourself understood
- making friends
The way you communicate has a big impact on your ability to get on with people and get the things that you want. Good communication skills can help you to avoid conflict and to solve problems. Open and honest communication is also important for making friends and having healthy relationships.
Styles of communication
Communication can be expressed in an aggressive, passive or assertive style.
is expressed in a forceful and hostile manner, and usually involves alienating messages such as you-statements (blaming the other person and accusing them of being wrong or at fault) and labelling.
In addition, the person's tone of voice and facial expressions are unfriendly. The assumption behind aggressive communication is 'Your needs don't matter' (I win/you lose).
involves putting your needs last. You don't express your thoughts or feelings, or ask for what you want. When you use passive communication it feels like others are walking all over you because you don't assert your own needs. So, you bottle things up and might feel resentful. The assumption behind passive communication is 'My needs don't matter' (You win/I lose).
involves clearly expressing what you think, how you feel and what you want, without demanding that you must have things your way. The basic underlying assumption is 'We both matter - lets try to work this out'.
Assertive communication increases your likelihood of getting what you want, avoiding conflict and maintaining good relationships (I win/you win). When you are assertive you can:
- Express your own thoughts, feelings and needs.
- Make reasonable requests of other people (while accepting their right to say 'no').
- Stand up for your own rights.
- Say 'no' to requests from others at times, without feeling guilty.
The way you speak - including the volume and tone of your voice, your physical gestures, and facial expressions, all have an important impact on how your message will be received. For example, if you fold your arms in front of your chest, have a stern expression on your face or speak in an accusing tone, the other person is likely to feel defensive even before they have heard what you have to say.
On the other hand, an open posture, a calm voice, and relaxed body language helps the other person to feel at ease, and your message is delivered in a non-threatening way.
Here's an acronym that might help you remember good body language:
S - Face the person squarely
O - Open posture, no crossed arms or fidgeting
L - Lean towards the person, not too much but just enough to show interest
E - Maintain eye contact, without staring
R - Be relaxed, don't fidget and be comfortable
Having difficult conversations
One of the most effective ways of communicating is to use whole messages. This is particularly useful when you need to raise an issue that is difficult to talk about, or makes you feel uncomfortable. A whole message involves expressing how you think and feel, while at the same time stating what you want. It consists of four parts:
Describe what happened:
(e.g. 'The other day when Mike came over you didn't stop and talk to him.').
Your beliefs, opinions or interpretation of what happened:
(e.g. 'I thought it looked rude - as though you don't like him.').
How you feel about the situation:
(e.g. 'I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable.').
What you would like to happen in the situation:
(e.g. 'Next time he comes over, I'd like you to say 'hi' and to make an effort to talk to him.').