How to Effectively Communicate
Effective communication skills are important especially to a person in recovery. Addicts spend a lot of time not communicating effectively with others and once in recovery, it can be a challenge to know what to do. One tip for communication during recovery—if at all possible, communicate face-to-face. Texting or emails are less personal and may not effectively communicate what you want you to say to others. Here are some communication guidelines to help get you on the path to healthy, clear communication practices.
To be a good communicator, you must first be a good listener. You might be thinking of what you need to say or should say; however, if you listen first to what someone is trying to communicate, you can fully understand the position of the other person. Listen with both ears and focus on what the person is saying. Avoid interruptions and show an interest in what is being communicated through a head nod. Try to understand the emotions that are being communicated by paying attention to the speaker’s body language. An engaged listener will listen for pauses or inflections, which can provide detail into the person’s emotional state. If you need clarification on what someone is saying, ask for it. You can also provide a feedback statement such as, “What I hear you saying is…”. This type of reflective statement shows the other person that you were truly listening.
When you are communicating, check your body language and facial expressions. The way you listen and react to another person can tell them how you are feeling without ever saying a word. Try using open body language such as uncrossed arms, maintaining eye contact, and standing with an open stance. You can also use body language to emphasize points you wish to make, as long as your body language is appropriate. Remember that 90% of what we communicate is done non-verbally.
Communication is truly about understanding what you need and what the other person needs and how to effectively communicate these needs. If you are stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you are more likely to communicate in a confusing way that will not effectively communicate your needs. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it might be a good idea to communicate after you have had a chance to calm down and get focused. Many people who communicate when stressed, regret some of what they say. This is because the communication is based on an emotion, not rational thought.
If you need something, ask for it. Direct, assertive communication effectively allows you to communicate what you need without being aggressive or demanding. Start your sentences with using “I” instead of “you”. If you are trying to communicate something you need and start with “you”, it can put a person on the defensive. Start sentences with “I” and express what it is you need in an honest, direct manner.