As 2018 approaches and you begin thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions, remember to include goals surrounding your mental and emotional health. One way to do this is to improve your communication skills. In our daily interactions with others, particularly those with whom we spend a lot of time (parents, partners, friends, co-workers, and children), we are bound to have some type of disagreement or misunderstanding which can result in hurt feelings, disappointment, or anger. If the situation is small, we likely forget about it and go on with our day. If it’s more significant, however, we are faced with the task of addressing the issue. For those who hate conflict and experience uncomfortable physical feelings such as queasiness and trembling hands, assertive communication feels daunting and is often avoided. Over time, however, continued avoidance not only interferes with having good relationships, but also can lead to heightened anxiety, bouts of sadness, low self-esteem, and other mental health trouble.
Instead of continuing to avoid these needed conversations, make the choice to address the issue, thereby valuing your thoughts and feelings. Begin by writing out your goals for the conversation. What would you like the outcome to be? Do you want the person to know your view of the situation or perhaps clarify something previously discussed? Next, consider possible responses/reactions and write down how you would like to respond in those scenarios. Of course, you can’t predict what the person will say, but giving yourself the opportunity to think about the possibilities may help lower your anxiety. Additionally, as you imagine another’s concerns and responses, you can practice compassion and allowance for their point of view. Finally, practice your delivery out loud privately or with a trusted friend. If presenting it to someone else, ask this person to summarize what you’ve said, to be sure that you are clearly stating your view. Remember, regardless of the outcome, you are empowering yourself to become a stronger communicator and the more you practice, the easier it gets.
In the next Wellness Series workshop, “Finding Your Confident Assertive Voice”, I will help you learn valuable skills to use when you have these difficult conversations. The workshop will address: challenging your perceptions, valuing emotions, skillful listening, empathy, and communicating in a non-threatening manner. To register for this event, go to http://beverlytherapists.com/eventsgroups/#post-859. I hope you will join us!
Learn more about the author of this post: Carla Porter-White, LCPC