Relationships are what make life worthwhile.
They can bring up joy, connection, comfort, and delight.
AND, they can also be quite challenging, frought with moments of miscommunication, hurt feelings, and big frustrations.
Relationships are the ultimate paradox and, if they were easy, the entire field of therapy likely wouldn’t exist.
One of the more common questions folks have when seeking out our therapy services is this: how do I communicate more effectively with my loved ones?
How do I say what I need to say in a way where she’ll actually hear me and not shut down?
This is a great and important question and therapy can be hugely effective in helping you learn to more skillfully communicate with your loved ones.
While we highly encourage you to seek out personalized support to navigate your unique situation, we do have a few tips for you to help you communicate more effectively no matter what your situation is.
First: Embody An Assertive Communication Style.
In order to improve communication with our loved ones, we begin by making sure we’re communicating in an assertive communication style.
Assertive communication is a style where an individual clearly states their needs, wants, and advocates for their rights in an open and honest way.
This style is respectful of other people’s boundaries and furthermore is open to negotiation and to being influenced by others when they state their own needs and wants.
Assertive communication can be characterized by the use of “I feel” statements, listening without interrupting, and speaking in a clear and calm tone of voice adequate to the environment.
It can also include stating your needs and wants clearly, acting respectfully, maintaining eye contact, having open body language, and demonstrating a willingness to explore solutions together.
Use the NVC-Framework To Make Requests/Discuss Challenging Issues
Next, we make sure that, when we’re bringing up difficult subjects, such as boundaries we would like to hold or requests we would like to make, that we use a tried and true framework for conversation success.
First, we want to use a tried and true framework for conversation success: the four-part Nonviolent Communication framework (NVC for short).
Borrowed and adapted from the work of the late psychologist Marshall Rosenberg’s work, we encourage our Evergreen clients to use this 4-part NVC conversation framework when they need to have challenging or hard conversations.
The first part of the four-part NVC framework is: state the action, event, or trigger of the conversation topic objectively (for example, as a video camera might have recorded it).
The second part of the NVC framework is to name the impact or, in other words, how this made you feel.
The third part of the NVC framework is to share what you need and value (in other words, why are you bringing this up in the first place?).
Finally, the fourth part of the NVC framework is to make a request (not a demand) for what you would like instead.
It might feel clunky and cumbersome to try and weave all these elements together but, if you do so, this framework is an easy way to “plug and play” a conversation that you would like to have with a loved one.
Combine this with speaking assertively, and you’ll increase the chances of communicating more effectively with your loved ones.
Try these tips the next time you need or want to practice speaking more effectively with your loved ones and see how it works!
And if you would like even more help improving your communication with your loved ones, please feel free to book either a complimentary 20-minute consult call with our clinical intake coordinator to get set up with the therapist who’s the best fit for your situation, or book a full first therapy appointment with the therapist of your choice here.
We look forward to being of support to you!