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  • Deborah Moyer

The Prescription for Better Communication

We’ve all found ourselves, at one time or another, trying to figure out when, or if, there’s a “right time” to talk to someone about a grievance, an idea, or just share something that’s been on your mind?

Do you know that feeling? When you’re nervous about the other person's reaction and you want to approach them when they are at their most, shall we say, “positive and most receptive” frame of mind?

There are, of course, some common-sense guidelines to follow when you shouldn’t approach someone, such as when they are feeling angry, upset, hurt, or in shock.

But, I’m sometimes surprised when people tell me they are concerned about approaching a loved one, friend, co-worker, or boss, even when it’s not a topic that is aggravating or upsetting.

What’s there to fear?

So, what’s behind this hesitation or even fear?

While there certainly are people that can be difficult to communicate with, it’s often more about the person delivering the news, idea, or opinion than the one receiving it.

Often people are afraid they will be ridiculed or rejected. They may lack confidence in their perspective, or the idea they are trying to convey, which leads them to stay playing small.

Why? Unfortunately, they may have been taught in life by others that their voice simply wasn’t worthy of being heard or they haven’t developed confidence in speaking their truth.

Even if they have the confidence within themselves that their opinion or idea has merit, some still defer to others because they don’t see themselves as being a thought leader.

They simply aren’t comfortable with the potential attention that it might generate, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

"It’s not the right time"

Many people use the excuse “It’s just not the right time…” when faced with the decision to communicate something that’s been on their mind.

But, that can hurt them way more when they avoid the conversation.

When a person doesn’t share what’s meaningful to them, especially if it’s something they are upset about, it can fester and grow. Eventually, it can get out of hand and become destructive.

That kind of stress can create health issues like higher blood pressure, migraines, stress eating disorders, and many other serious conditions.

Instead, opting for consistent, clear, and open communication can go a long way in reducing stress, improving sleep, having better mental focus, and many other health benefits.

Stop playing small

For some, staying in the shadows of anonymity can feel safe. They think they are protecting themselves, but it’s a false sense of security and it doesn't serve them.

But where do you start if you haven’t fully developed these skills?

Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut here. Creating better communication habits just takes practice. It’s a skill set after all, right?

It requires confidence and developing confidence is best approached by taking baby steps to avoid overwhelm and a hasty retreat.

Moving out of old mindsets also requires a shift in perspective. You need to be present and in the moment to have the clarity to know when you’re falling back into old avoidance habits.

So, if you’ve been hesitant in the past to expand your comfort with open communication, try this.

What’s your “Why?”

The next time you find yourself hesitating to share what’s on your mind immediately ask yourself what’s behind the hesitation. What emotions are coming up for you when you think about expressing yourself?

Do you experience anxiety or fear? Do you immediately look for an excuse to put something off? Are you using the “I’ll wait for the right time” excuse?

Sometimes these reactions are so auto-responsive in nature that we aren’t even consciously aware of them anymore. That’s why being present and awareness is so important.

Consider shifting your normal reaction to avoid when you’re thinking things like “they don’t want to hear what I have to say” to a more positive “Why not? My opinion or idea is just as worthy as anyone else’s!”

The bottom line is that it’s not about whether your idea is the best solution or your opinion is right or wrong. It’s more about trusting yourself to simply open a new dialog with others and see where it takes you.

Your idea or opinion might just end up being what that person needed to hear at that moment to help them on a healing path or finding a solution.

Make your message clear

If someone has upset you, don’t assume they know it. Often, people aren’t aware they’ve been hurtful for a variety of reasons.

But, you’ll never know unless you share your thoughts and feelings openly and confidently with them.

Yes, I know. You’re thinking “Deborah, not every comment or opinion is well-received, especially in today’s world, even when it’s put in the most positive and loving terms.”

That’s ok! The point is, is that you’ve made the effort and chose empowerment to share your voice with others. It’s not about whether they agree with you or that they accept it.

The good news is that the more you communicate, the easier it will get.

The “Right Time” list

To get in the spirit, let’s go through some examples of topics that will always be on “the right time” list.

1. Being honest.

While there are certain situations where you have to be careful and navigate so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings, honesty is always appropriate in any communication. Sometimes it takes a little finesse, some patience, and loving words, but as they say “honesty is the best policy”. Address the issue as soon as possible. Waiting and hoping the issue will go away can backfire on you. People will instinctively assume you didn't trust them enough to be truthful.

2. Asking for what you need.

This is a toughie for some. But, it’s a great place to start if you want to build a solid foundation for a relationship. People aren’t mind-readers, so letting them know where you’re coming from is a positive! They’ll have a clear understanding of what you are asking for and you’ll avoid potential confusion.

3. Expect respect.

Yes, respect is something you earn in any relationship, but you can’t start to earn it if you don’t believe you are worthy of receiving it in the first place. So, expect respect from those

you communicate with.

4. Be supportive.

While you’re building your communication skillset, share your journey. You probably know others who have shared the same hesitation or shyness in communicating their voice.

Encourage them and share what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. It’s a great feeling to hear others share in those same challenges.

5. Get clear on your intentions.

We often talk around a subject and create confusion if we aren’t clear on the message we want to voice. So, getting clear on what you want that person to understand is critical if you want the best results and that happy ending!

Listen Up

To develop better communication, we need to be just as good a listener as we are in sharing our voice. Believing in ourselves and knowing deeply that our voice counts, is key, regardless of whether those around us accept it or not.

So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!