Strategies for Good Communication

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA

Why do you need good communication? To put it simply, good communication can make or break any kind of relationship. Whether it’s in business, with a friend, a family member or a significant other. Communication is vital for conveying feelings, giving instructions, and building a strong relationship.

Here are 4 Strategies for Good Communication: 

Get to the Point

Be brief and upfront when you’re talking with someone. Long-winded, roundabout statements are more difficult to follow. But especially try to get to the point quickly to ensure you are heard and understood.

Express Feelings Clearly with “I” Statements

Describe your own feelings instead of using blaming “you” statements. “You” statements put others on the defensive. Express the emotions that you feel so that misunderstandings are less likely to occur and the person you are talking to does not have to guess how you are feeling or make wrong assumptions. “I” statements, such as “I feel anxious when… ,” are direct, and they make an impression, compared to “You made me anxious when…”

Speak for Yourself and Not for Others

When you speak for other people and assume you know what others are thinking this can commonly lead to misunderstandings. Be aware of this type of behavior and try to change it. Only you are an expert in your feelings. This type of situation can be avoided if everyone is responsible for expressing only their own feelings—nobody else’s.

Focus on Behaviors Rather Than on Traits

It is easier for us to change our behaviors and what we do than to change personal qualities or traits. These would include things like our personalities, attitudes, or feelings. If somebody’s actions have upset you, turn your attention to your communication on behavior rather than on traits. This makes it clear what you are upset about and is less likely to put the other person on the defense. Make it a complete statement, linked to behavior. For example: Instead of saying: You’re selfish because you never come home on time! Say: I sometimes feel like you don’t think about me when you come home late every night. I am overwhelmed with the children by the end of the day and could use some help.

About Shelton Piland:

Day to day life can be exhausting, stressful and anxiety inducing. It is easier said than done to “enjoy the little things in life” when we have so many outside pressures weighing on us. When we feel overwhelmed by these pressures our mental health and personal relationships can suffer. Shelton hopes to assist you and yours in managing difficult times and strengthening your relationships.

Shelton is a Resident in Clinical Social Work and will be providing services in the Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. She received her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system, as well as with veterans and their families at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. She is certified in Motivational Interviewing and in Inter-Professional Collaboration. Shelton has experience working with individuals, children, couples, families, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, and hospice patients.

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