How often have you wondered what someone else was thinking? Do you ever think someone hasn't heard what you said? Were they hearing, but not listening? Are you getting what you want and what you need?
The truth is, we aren't mind readers, we don't know if people heard us, and sometimes, alright fine, most times, we don't say what we mean despite our best intentions.
Too often we hear people say, "well I think they understood me, how can they not?" Of course, then we must reply, well, what did you actually say?
If we want to be heard, we have to speak clearly.
Beating around the bush doesn't do us any good!
Below are some tips for communicating clearly:
1) Use “I” Statements: When you talk about what YOU are feeling and needing it stops you from sounding like you are blaming, which can make the other person feel attacked and take the discussion to a more negative level.
If you say, for example, “I need you to call me when you are going to be late. I worry when I haven’t heard from you,” your partner cannot argue with that. After all, it’s how YOU feel. This way, no blame is communicated only the feeling or need that you want the other person to understand and consider.
2) You do not need to be a psychic and your partner should not expect you to be one. When communicating with your partner, if you have any doubt about what has just been said or you’re still not sure what is making your partner upset, ASK. It’s worse to assume something that is wrong and then jump to the wrong conclusion.
3)Watch your tone! Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it that can make or break the communication. Keep your tone respectful, loving, positive and such that it invites collaboration.
4.) Stay on topic: Often times, we become sidetracked in our thought processes and asking for what we need can turn into complaining about what happened. While acting like a broken record can become tiresome, remember, we're trying to achieve something here.
5.) Be clear and concise: The most effective way to get your point across is to make it in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using complex, convoluted sentences, and try to state your argument in direct language. Before speaking, ask yourself, “What is the clearest way I can make my point?”
The DBT Acryonym is helpful in reaching goals or objective effectiveness.
Describe the problem factually and without judgment
Express your feelings about the problem. Emphasize “I feel” instead of “You make me feel” statements
Assert yourself by stating exactly what it is you want as simply and clearly as possible
Reinforce getting what you want by describing why the other person would benefit from helping you
Mindful attention to own biases, intense feelings, invalidating others/self & urges to engage in problematic actions.
Appear Confident by using eye contact skillfully, paying attention to body language, and tone of voice
Negotiate terms by being willing to make a compromise, having a plan B ready to offer as an alternative