One of the biggest hinderances in our relationships with others is a lack of healthy communication skills. I call them skills because we are not born with these and they need to be learned. With some practice and mindfulness we can become better communicators. When we are communicating in healthier ways, we will end up having healthier relationships. Who desires healthier relationships?
Here are 6 rules for healthy communication to get you on the road to developing healthier relationships.
Say What You Mean
It is important to be true to yourself and say what you mean. Too often we fear others either getting angry with us or rejecting us. This fear leads to not always being honest when communicating our thoughts and feelings to others. When we only tell people what we think they want to hear, we are putting a wedge in that relationship. There is a greater chance for us to develop resentments and bitterness towards these people. The sad fact is it is all because of the choices that we made to not be authentic. If you are struggling with feelings of resentment and bitterness please look at the following link for some guidance (Attaining Victory Over Bitterness).
Say What You Feel
When we share what we feel it shows others that we are taking responsibility for our own life. Expressing our feelings can be an intimidating and difficult challenge for some of us. It is initially easy to hide behind the mask of, “I am good, everything is good”. Eventually though the mask gets dirty and difficult to continue wearing. When we are able to express our feelings honestly and allow ourselves to be vulnerable it facilitates open and honest communication. This will promote a closer relationship with others and there will be more trust and safety in the relationship. If you are needing some guidance in healthy ways to express your feelings please have a look at the following link (How To Express Feelings And How Not To).
Say What You Want Or Need
It is vital to healthy relationships to voice what we want and need from others. Don’t keep secrets about what your needs are. It is not fair to the other person to be made to guess and then deal with your disappointment if they guess wrong. It is also not fair to yourself. The other person may not be able to meet your wants or needs, however if you are not honest about them, they will rarely be met. Give others the opportunity to see if they can be of help to you. Remember nobody can read your mind.
Don’t Blame Others
Has any one ever said to you, “you made me…”? Have you ever said this to someone? The truth is people can’t make you do anything: you always have a choice. This includes how we feel as well as what we do. It is easy to cast the blame elsewhere – at least initially. By not taking responsibility for our own choices we are harming our relationships not only with others but also with ourselves. If you are wanting some guidance on how to stop blaming others you can find it here (own your choices – letting go of the victim mentality).
Talk with “I” Statements
We need to only speak for ourselves and own our thoughts and feelings. It was mentioned above that we need to stop blaming others for the choices that we make. When we use the statement “I feel” we are letting others know that it is our feeling and not our families or friends. Using “I feel” instead of “You make me”, allows for open and honest communication. Others will be more open to hear what it is you want to say and not be hindered by becoming defensive.
Check It Out
It is easy to misunderstand another persons message. Too often we listen to respond and not to understand. Learning to check things out can be a life saver in our relationships. Ask questions. Seek clarification if you need to. If you are the one sending the message, ask the other person what they believe you said. If you are the receiver of the message, repeat the message back to get confirmation that you heard correctly. These skills will help you and the other person gain greater understanding of not only the words that are spoken, but also the meaning behind the words.
Don’t Give Up On Learning Healthy Communication
Learning better communication skills can at times feel daunting. As we get older it is harder to change our ways. If you are seeking to have healthier relationships, a great place to start is by looking at the way you communicate to those in your life. The truth is we can not change anything that we don’t acknowledge as needing changing. You deserve to be in healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to begin putting these 6 healthy communication rules in place. With some practice I believe that they will help you to attain and then maintain healthier relationships.
What rule are you really good at? Which one needs a bit of work? Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments – I would love to hear from you.
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