Written by therapist Cotorey Seals

Within my short time as a clinician, I have seen people start therapy to work on their communication skills with their significant others, friends, and even loved ones. What I am about to share is not revolutionary, but I believe it is highly effective for those aiming to be better communicators. Here are a few ways you can learn to increase your effectiveness with communication, avoid conflict, and clearly communicate with those you love through intent, timing and tone.

Intent

Intent demonstrates the sender’s desire to communicate effectively to the receiver. The goal of the intent stage is to effectively communicate their needs, wants, or desires without offense or accusations toward the receiver. 

The biggest problem I see with the intent stage is that the sender cannot control how the receiver perceives their message. The sender may say to the receiver, “that wasn’t my intention,” or “that’s not what I meant to say.” Ask yourself, did your tone impact the intent of your message? One’s tone can get in the way of how a message is received.

Asking clarifying questions to best help the receiver is essential to establish your intent, such as:

  • Is this what you heard? (repeating back what was said)
  • Would you like me to elaborate?
  • Do you need me to say this in a different way?
  • Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

Timing

Timing helps others gauge if the conversation is appropriate for the time in which the dialogue transpired. For example, would it be wise to have a deep conversation about how your spouse hurt you earlier in the day if you don’t have enough time to process and reconcile that situation properly? Timing helps people gauge if a conversation is urgent, or if it can wait. Respecting when someone is ready to have a conversation can help you avoid conflict. 

Tone

Tone or inflection is heard in the way one is speaking. It’s a reminder to help the sender speak in a way that will help them properly communicate their intent without sarcasm, negative inflections, or belittlement. We all know the age-old saying, “use your inside voice.” Tone is a reminder to the sender to speak in a respectful manner that helps them communicate their needs, wants, and desires effectively. 

Improving your communication style requires some focus, but it will save you from misunderstandings and conflicts in the long run. If communication has ever been a concern that you want to work on within your significant relationships, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor. Give us a call today!

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