Sep 17 2010
From the moment we are born our parents start repeating words to us in the hopes that we will soon repeat those same words. Once we start school we are taught how to make sentences and carry on conversations. We communicate in many different ways everyday. We talk, send e-mails, make phone calls, text, give looks with our eyes, make facial expressions, and even communicate without doing a thing (Have you ever got the silent treatment?). Communication is a powerful tool that if used properly can help us be successful in all areas of our lives. Surprisingly, we are not actually taught how to communicate our wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. As children, we learn to say “I am thirsty” if we want water, but we are not taught how to say “I feel sad, because…”. We generally learn how to do this through emulating our parents and others whom we look up to, but we are not usually taught the proper methods for communicating these feelings or why it is so important for our interpersonal relationships. As a result, many people simply don’t have the ability to communicate effectively.
As a counselor at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando, I see the inability to communicate feelings at the core of many problems that lead someone to look for guidance from a professional counselor. Many adults and children have learned to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings through ineffective and harmful methods – yelling, arguing, hurting others, and hurting themselves. Also, because they have not been taught the tools to communicate effectively, they react differently to different circumstances. While they may be able to communicate well in one setting, they communicate poorly in another. For example, some children get into trouble at school for disrespecting their teacher, but the parents report no such behavior at home. A wife may yell at her husband, but never raise her voice to anyone else. There are many ways communication can be misinterpreted and understanding this can only help one to be a more effective communicator.
As a counselor the first advice I give to someone struggling with communication is to start sentences with, “I feel…………”. In any situation when dealing with feelings it is best to start with how you are feeling and not to start with, “You……..”. I challenge you to try this technique the next time you need to communicate your wants, needs, thoughts, or feelings to another. Once you are comfortable with saying what you feel, you are ready for the next step, which is, “I feel…………..when you……………….because……………….”. Just by implementing this one communication tool you can increase your ability to communicate as well increase the chance of actually being heard. This is just one tool that I know can help, but there are countless others that the counselors and life coaches at Life Skills Resource Group would be honored to teach you.
An effective communicator can increase their self-esteem, strengthen relationships, set boundaries, and say what they are truly feeling without hurting others. If you struggle with communicating your wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings then a counselor may be able to help you learn new skills to be a more effective communicator.
If you would like to expand your communication skills or discuss new ways to express old concerns please contact one of the counselors or life coaches at Life Skills Resource Group today. Amy
To read more about Amy Smith’s work at LSRG. Visit the OUR TEAM page to read about all the counselors and life coaches at Life Skills Resource Group. Phone consultations are always FREE.