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Healthy Communication Skills

Healthy Communication Skills are important because mental wellness comes with the ability to effectively communicate what you feel and why. While they’re important skills, especially when coping with PTSD, anxiety, and withdrawal from alcoholism and drug abuse. They don’t come easy to everyone. Some people have a challenging time communicating and that is ok but why not try and improve coping skills? These 6 simple steps will help you in the process. 

1. Identify what you want to communicate. 

In a hypothetical situation, let’s say your partner is late coming home for dinner and you want to address it. The first thing you need to determine is why you’re upset. Are you upset because you made dinner, and you don’t want it to get cold or does being late make you feel unappreciated as a partner? This is important because if the situation is the problem, then that is what you need to communicate.  If feeling unappreciated is the problem, then that is what you need to communicate. Finding the solution to a problem starts with identifying the problem. 

2. Discuss one Topic at A Time. 

When communicating a problem with someone, stick with one issue at a time. If the issue is the dinner, communicate that. “I felt upset that the dinner I made was going to get cold before you could enjoy it.” If it is feeling underappreciated, then address it. “I’ve been feeling underappreciated in our relationship, and I wanted to discuss it with you.” Your partner may ask for examples, and you can give the examples but remember to stay with the topic. Don’t let listing examples distract you from what matters. Then the conversation becomes less about feeling underappreciated and more about how they don’t make the bed, empty the dishwasher, or hang out with you.  

3. Ask Clarifying Questions. 

You may be unsure of what the other person is trying to explain. If you don’t understand what they mean, it is ok to ask or try reframing. “When you say _______, do you mean _______?” Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions as they will help you understand what the conversation is genuinely about. Sometimes the breakdown is simply a miscommunication. Don’t pretend to understand what the other person is saying. If you don’t understand, just ask. 

4. Respect Each Other. 

Do not name call. Don’t bring up past transgressions. Don’t use definites. (“You always do this!”). Don’t raise your voice and don’t talk over each other. Part of Healthy Communication skills is giving each other the chance to say the things you need to say.  Sometimes having a pillow helps. You simply pass the pillow back and forth as you speak and only the person holding the pillow can speak. Having a physical object is often helpful to prevent outbursts. When you don’t respect each other, the attempt at communication is in vain. Once shouting starts, the conversation is over and nothing healthy will be accomplished. 

5. Take a Break 

If you feel like the conversation is getting heated or getting off course, it’s ok to take a break. Simply say, “I need ten minutes to clear my head and afterwards we can continue.” It doesn’t have to be ten minutes, just long enough to cool down or recollect.  If you need to sleep on it overnight, that’s ok too. Just don’t let the break become indefinite.  

6. Make a Compromise 

The goal of communication is to reach a compromise. Remember with this step, people are human. It’s all about give and take. Compromise isn’t always reached but sometimes you or the other person just need to be heard. Sitting down for a healthy conversation is a fantastic way to get out feelings and possibly establish some new boundaries. Healthy conversations take work from all parties involved but clear communication is sure to improve your relationships.