Michele O'Mara

Communication Strategies

Filed By Michele O'Mara | March 18, 2008 6:20 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: communication tips, relationship advice

Can you give me three ways to improve my communication? I'm not the best when it comes to talking about tough things in particular.

~ Tongue Tied

I love to talk about communication! Narrowing the strategies down to three is going to be the hard part. Here goes though:

First, let there be no more but's about it! The word "but" is generally used to bring two separate thoughts together in one sentence. The problem with the word "but" is that everything that comes before it is negated. When you are communicating, try replacing the word "but" with the word "and." See if you notice any difference between these two sentences: "I want to trust you, but you have deceived me," and "I want to trust you, and you have deceived me." The latter leaves a whole lot more room for hope.

Second, be direct. Passive-aggressive is a common term used to describe a style of communication where a person attempts to get their needs met indirectly. Instead of saying, "You don't love me," which is a passive-aggressive strategy to get someone to say, "I love you," it is much more effective to be direct. You could say, "Sometimes I question whether or not you love me. Do you?"

Last, I would recommend that you always focus on "I", not "you." The word "you" tends to feel like a verbal poke in the nose. Instead of saying, "You are always late," try "I feel so disrespected when I have to wait." This keeps the focus on your message and does not distract the listener with what feels like a criticism.

by Michele O'Mara, LCSW

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Thanks for this, Michelle. I have to have a difficult conversation with someone about how I feel when they are consistently late, so it's ironic that you mentioned that as an example. I appreciate the reminder about making "I statements."

I am the queen of passive agressive, something that has helped wreck most of my relationships (one was not by my being passive aggressive, she was just crazier than I was!).

I have worked to stop my passive agressive tendencies, but it is not all that easy to break what is after all, a life long habit in communication. Many times, according to my therapist, there are underlying issues that cause a person to gravitate towards that style of communication.

It seems to me that, it may be an easy suggestion to make, but some people may have problems putting it into practice.

All very good advice. I'm really bad about the "buts" :)

Yes, great tips! Thanks michele!