What are good communication skills?
Good communication skills are when we say what we mean and mean what we say. If we have a feeling we express it as a feeling, such as “I feel betrayed.” In good communication, we express our needs like this “I need more support.” Typically when people are not getting their needs met and they don’t feel able to express their feelings they criticise their partner. Their partner then responds with defensiveness.
Defensiveness is harmful to a relationship because it feels like you are not listening. If you replace criticism with expressing your needs and feelings in a healthy way, it will immediately produce a better response. Your partner will be much more willing to listen. Therefore you are more likely to feel heard and they will probably do what you ask.
What if you are the one on the receiving end of the criticism?
- Try not to take it personally. Understand that the person criticising you is experiencing difficulty in expressing their needs and emotions. They have not received good communication skills, and that is not their fault.
- Since there is always an unmet need or an unexpressed emotion behind criticism, try to discover what it is. Show an interest and ask open questions to find out more.
- Take a deep breath and soothe yourself mentally. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and respect.
- Consider that while this feels like an attack on your personality, it is probably just an awkward request. Find out how you can help with that request.
For more ideas on healthy communication check out my live online coaching package Healthy Conversations. In these sessions we practice the art of communication by slowing down the conversation and using empathy and validation. We practice several types of conversation for different situations.
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