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6 Ways to Avoid Communication Breakdown

Communication breakdowns happen to the best of us. Feeling unheard, misunderstood, and judged can be frustrating and isolating - especially if you're trying to discuss something important to you.

It reminds me of a line from the song Words by Missing Persons:

"What are words for

when no one listens

it's no use talking at all."

So, what can you do to ensure you're being heard?

  1. Take responsibility. When you use responsible sentences, like "I believe ..." "I think ..." and "I feel ...", you begin to take ownership of the point you're trying to make. People on the receiving end are more likely to listen instead of getting defensive, deflecting, and shutting down.

  2. Be a good listener. Ask open-ended questions to find out more about what the other person is trying to say. Don't jump to conclusions. Try to stay out of judgment. Just be present and hear them out.

  3. Be present to your intentions and your needs. What are you trying to say and why is it important to you? What is the need behind your communication? What do you REALLY want?

  4. Call out by Calling In "spicy" communication. When someone comes at you disrespectfully, passive-aggressive, or aggressively, address it right away. Likely, the person communicating that way has an unmet need and doesn't know how to say what they mean through the trigger of their emotions and conditioning. If you inquire about their feelings, usually they'll change their tone. Give them a safe space to tell you what they really mean. Examples: "You seem really upset. Tell me what I can do to support you." and "That seemed passive-aggressive. I want you to know that it's ok for you to tell me exactly what you mean." **Please note: you do NOT have to take verbal/emotional abuse. Call it in, address it, and walk away.

  5. Handle your emotions. It's easy to let those suckers fly, especially when it's something that's a bigger issue or a strong need you have. How can you channel those feelings to better communicate your way to the solutions you're looking for? Remember, you're more likely to be heard when you aren't blaming or needing to be "right" or "better than" the other person.

  6. Be direct. Side-stepping or "beating around the bush" is cultural conditioning. If you tend to do this, you likely learned it from a parental figure. That's ok. You can un-train yourself and break through it with practice. Be brave and bold enough to say what you need to say, clearly and concisely.

There are so many other nuanced approaches to adjusting the way you communicate so you feel heard, understood, and accepted. If you're interested in learning more, take a peek at our online classes and virtual coaching.

May your conversations go more smoothly today and every day.

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