Mindfulness: How Can We Communicate Better?
We’ve all been at home with the same people, night and day for quite a long time now with little opportunity to “socially distance” in our own homes. This may add a layer of stress to our conversations and relationships. Home Base’s Family Outreach Coordinator Stacie Fredriksson offers some mindful tips on how to have less stressful conversations and improve communication.
Communication by nature involves both an exchange of information as well as non-verbal cues (body language, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, or tone). These non-verbal cues often “take over” the verbal message to the point that someone may focus more on how you say something than what you actually said.
Understanding Communication Styles
There are 4 basic styles of communication. To demonstrate each style, consider a situation where you are standing in line and someone cuts in front of you …
If you react in an Assertive style: I count AND you count (“We’ve all be waiting, please go to the back of the line.”)
If you react in an Aggressive style: I count, you don’t (“Hey, what do you think you are doing … get to the back of the line!”)
If you react in a Passive style: You count, I don’t (You do and say nothing but feel really angry at the person who cut you in line)
If you react in a Passive/Aggressive style: I count, but I won’t let you know it (You say nothing but push your cart into the person that cut in front of you).
We can all probably see ourselves in a few of these communication styles.
The goal is to aim for the Assertive style of communication … I count AND you count.
Techniques for Optimal Communication
Try a few of these techniques to help you be more assertive in your conversations:
Acknowledge – “I understand you are concerned… “
Ask for more – “Is there anything else you would like to say…?”
Align with the positive – “I agree the proposal was late … “
Add your own – “I would like to tell you my perspective on this … “
Learn to say no and ask directly for what you want – “I feel ___ when you ___because ___.”
Practicing being more assertive in your conversations can help you express your feelings, position, and opinions in a way that is both honest AND respectful of another person. Good communication can help not only improve our self-esteem but also improve our relationships.
About the Author: Stacie comes to Home Base with 10 years of non-profit experience working with service members, veterans, and their families. Most recently, she was the program manager for a military/veteran family support program at a large social service agency. A veteran herself, Stacie served 14 years in the Air Force on active duty as an intelligence officer supporting flying and space operations as well as an ROTC instructor at the University of S. Florida before transferring to the Air Force Reserves where she served the last 9 years of her career at USCYBERCOM before retiring in 2016. Stacie is married to her husband, also an Air Force veteran, and together they have two amazing children and one silly dog who keep them both busy and focused on the importance of living each day to the fullest!