Licensed counselor Kathy Parker shares four techniques for communicating effectively. Although the examples I will give with pertain to a romantic relationship, all of these techniques can be used with absolutely anyone. When you think about your relationships, whether you are thinking about a spouse, friend, co-worker or anyone else, we know that there are times when we want to express our own needs. For some people it is intimidating to be open and honest, but it really is important if you want your relationships to be authentic.
1. Be Assertive:
Many people find themselves on one of 2 ends of the spectrum, either passively allowing their needs to go unmet or aggressively demand their needs at the expense of those around them.
Being assertive is a delicate art of making your desires clear while simultaneously respecting those with whom you are communicating.
2. Turn Criticisms Into Requests:
Let`s use the example of you wanting more quality time with your spouse. One option is to criticize your partner about how much time he spends with his friends, at work and on his computer. This approach is likely to invite defensiveness and potential arguing. Instead of criticizing what your partner is currently doing, request what you want - more quality time. Talk about why it is important to you. When making requests, it is important to be specific. For example, instead of saying, 'I want us to spend more time together,' make a request, 'I`d like it if we go on an evening date every week and spend Sunday mornings together.'
3. Use 'The Sandwich':
When making a request of someone, make it clear that you recognize what they are already doing well and the efforts that they are making. Consider the 'bread' as validation and appreciation on either end of the 'meat/veggies,' which is the request. This does not mean watering down or sugarcoating what you are requesting. It simply means adding appreciation before and after. This is an important technique, as we all respond more openly when we feel recognized and appreciated.
4. Revisit After Allowing Others Time To Process:
When approaching someone with a request, you have likely had time to prepare for the conversation. It is easy to overlook the fact that the person with whom you are speaking is hearing what you are saying for the first time when you deliver the message. Allow the other person time to think about what you are saying. If they need to gather their thoughts, allow them time to do so. Set a time to talk about the issue again.
Do all of these strategies need to be face to face or is there ever a time when we can communicate effectively with emails and texts?
When possible, face-to-face communication is best. If talking face-to-face feels so intimidating that you think you wouldn`t say what you need to unless you used email or text, then go for it. Just keep in mind that it is easy to lose your message in translation when you can`t control tone or body language.