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The Quintessential Health Blog

Improving our Communication

It is easy to make the assumption that communication with those who know us best should be easy. For this reason, we often feel surprised, annoyed, or even angry when close others misunderstand what we are trying to say or provide us with unhelpful responses to our problems. These feelings may lead us to assume that others are at fault for this miscommunication and should know how to understand us better. However, a great place to begin in resolving these challenges is to reflect on our own communication styles.

Here are 5 skills that can be used for better communication:

1)Active Listening- The difference between hearing and listening may seem obvious, but it is worth considering how often we confuse the two. Active listening provides an important message to the person you are having a conversation with- it lets them know that you are working to understand what they are trying to say. Active listening can be done through non-verbal signals of eye contact, nodding, and open body posture, and through paraphrasing in your own words the content of the message once the other person is done speaking. Make sure the other person knows that you have listened to what they have to say before you offer advice or your perspective.

2)Ask directly for what you want or need- We often assume that other people, especially those that are close to us, can read our minds or pick up on indirect messages that we provide them. But our inner thoughts are not as obvious to others as we think they are, and it can lead to frustration and disappointment if we expect our friends and families to have mind reading super powers. Be direct in your requests and offer clarification for points that are misunderstood by others to most effectively receive what you are hoping for.

3)Speak from the “I” perspective- When we want to express our dissatisfaction with another person’s behavior, it can feel automatic to jump to starting sentences with “you.” However, speaking from this perspective is likely to put the other person on the defensive, which can lead to conflict. The good news is that we can convey the same thoughts, feelings, and concerns without making the other person feel attacked by speaking from the “I” perspective.

4)Remove distractions- We can likely all resonate with having to repeat ourselves several times during a conversation because the other person is distracted by their phone, computer, or other device. While there is typically no ill intention behind this distraction, it can leave the other person feeling disrespected, frustrated, and unheard. Be mindful of disengaging from electronic devices and other distractions during conversations with others to facilitate effective communication.

5)Show empathy- Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes when they are speaking, even if you cannot personally relate to their perspective. Validate the experiences of others, and ask questions to help you better understand how they are feeling to show that their opinions are valued.

If you would like to talk to a professional about communication skills, Quintessential Health is here for you. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation at

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