Five Tips for Healthy Communication
Healthy communication can be challenging at the best of times, let alone when facing stress or uncertainty. However, putting the effort into cultivating open and caring communication can have big benefits for our personal and relational well-being. Healthy communication can reduce stress, increase connection, and help us to meet our needs.
Try these five tips to start growing your communication skills today:
When we’re feeling big emotions or stress, we often become more reactive. In this state, we might notice our communication is more aggressive, defensive, or shut down. If we support ourselves to relax and ground, we are more likely to have productive communication that is thoughtful and intentional.
Next time you feel overwhelmed, try the STOP strategy! Stop, take a breath, observe, proceed mindfully.
S is for stop. Pause whatever you are doing or saying and give yourself space.
T is for take a breath. Use this as a reminder to engage in practices that help to settle your body, like deep breathing.
O is for observe. This directs us to notice what is happening, both internally and externally. What sensations, emotions, and thoughts do we notice? What is happening in our environment and with the people around us? Then we can move on to…
P is for proceed. Proceed mindfully, where we make intentional and self-aware decisions about how we engage.
- Practice Makes Practice:
You are not alone if you find that when you get into a conversation, you forget what you wanted to say, or nothing goes according to plan. Try practicing ahead of time; write down what you want others to know, or try out different wording and phrasing. Remember, that no one is perfect at communicating! It’s okay to make mistakes, feel messy, and keep practicing. It’s also okay to come back later, ask to revisit, continue, or try again.
- Return to Intention:
Intention is the anchor of communication. It’s easy to drift away from the initial intention, and somehow end up on a very different topic. Perhaps you have even found yourself asking, “how did we get here”? Take this opportunity to pause and bring yourself back to the intention.
What was your hope for the communication, and what did you want to get out of it? Sometimes an intention is as simple as getting an answer to a question, sometimes the intention is to better understand what’s going on for someone else, or for them to better understand you. Share your intention with your communication partner and ask about theirs!
- Check-in and Check-it-out:
It can be easy to get lost in our own train of thought or stuck in our own perspective and to forget to check-in with our communication partner. We might think we already know how they feel or what they think. But the reality is that we can’t, and sometimes the things we label facts are actually interpretations or assumptions that we have made. Pause to check-in with your communication partners – how are they feeling? How are they receiving what you’re saying? Is your belief true for them too, or do they have a different story?
- The Reward of Connection
Entering honest and open communication can be scary. It can feel vulnerable, or maybe even risky! And there are certainly risks to authentic communication. We won’t always get the outcome we hoped for, and others may not want to communicate the same way, or like how we have changed the way we communicate. It’s important to remember that there are also risks to not communicating openly (at least some of the time). We might miss out on the opportunity to have others understand us more fully, or have our needs better met. Taking this risk might open the door to more nourishing and genuine connection.
If you’re intrigued to learn more, join us for our two-part Healthy Communication workshop, next offered on October 25th and November 8th.