Paula Kruger

Clinical Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Effective Communication

What is effective communication?

Effective communication is the sharing of information from one person to another. In relationships, effective verbal communication allows you to explain your perspective and your needs. By merely utilising correct communication, your needs can be met, and so can your partners and thus establishing a connection. The key to success at work and in all interpersonal relationships is through effective communication.

Communication in the workplace

Success or failures at work usually is determined by this one reason: relating well to others. One’s productivity, in roles ranging from

  • Supervisor or manager
  • Nurse
  • Personal Assistant
  • Mental health worker
  • Caretaker
  • Laborer
  • Lawyer
  • Physician
  • Clerk
  • Minister 

is greatly enhanced by communicating well. In essence, it is difficult to think of a single job in which communication is unimportant.

Although the development of such effective interpersonal communication is one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments, the average person simply does not communicate that well. And it is a real burden, as a low-level communication leads to loneliness and distance from;

  • Friends
  • Lovers
  • Spouses
  • Children 
  • Colleagues
  • Bosses

Research studies indicate that, despite a tendency toward defensiveness at first about learning interpersonal skills, people of all ages can do with learning specific communication skills. And these communication skills lead to improved relationships and increased vocational competence.

Why is it so important to improve communication?

Good communication is vital in all of our relationships and is an essential part of any healthy partnership.

Life has its ups and downs, with many external experiences and personal challenges that cannot be avoided – it is just a part of life. However, a healthy and consistent communication style makes it easier to work through conflict and build a healthier and stronger foundation in all relationships/partnerships.

It is important that whether it is a personal or work relationship to create the right time and place to discuss an issue. 

Couples communication and conflict resolution

It may take some block of time to discuss a concern, which can be time well spent – given the issue has often been building up and creating resentment in your relationship for some time. With the right communication, a higher degree of emotional intelligence and insight can be gained. The potential for a positive outcome and a true understanding moving forward is greatly increased. 

My recommendation would be to;

  • Agree on a time to talk face to face, going so far as to even make an appointment with each other to discuss the issue.
  • Once the time is set aside, ensure there will be no distractions, such as mobile phones, television, or your computer.
  • Define what the issue or topic is
  • What senses you each experience around the issue, for example, what you see, hear, taste, touch smell.
  • What range of feelings you may hold onto around the issue. May be emotions such as love, hate, anger, grief, or joy. Many ‘feeling words’ relate to these basic six emotions.
  • The thoughts that you have around the issue. such as, your ideas, opinions, values, attitudes, assumptions, expectations, beliefs and what your knowledge is
  • Wants – Ask yourself what exactly do you want, and is there anything you are not comfortable with? What may be best for the other person and for yourself as a couple?
  • Actions regarding the issue or topic – what action did you take in the past? What action are you taking now? And what action will you take in the future?
  • Body sensations – how do you feel in your body. Take time to feel if you have a headache or are aching or tired. Perhaps there is a knot in your stomach or other nervous emotion?

During this process, it is very important that one person at a time is a good listener, and repeats back precisely what the other person has shared. The process is repeated with the other active listening, without interruption and repeating back what their partner has expressed.

These are very effective communication skills & strategies and is a well-tested toolset when resolving conflict within a relationship.

I have been educating people over the past 23 years, be it in my couples’ counselling consultations, workgroups, family or individual sessions on how to effectively relate and communicate.

There are three ways people relate to each other;

  • Non-Assertively
  • Aggressively
  • Assertively

The use of these ways of relating can vary from situation to situation. It would be rare for any person to operate exclusively in only one. However, you will find that each person has a personal style that favours a particular mode.

Two of the ways of relating to others have the capacity to destroy relationships: one way has the potential to not only build relationships but also to lead you to an understanding of yourself – an understanding that can illuminate how you interact with others, how you enhance your confidence and self-esteem and how you develop love in your life.

Relating in a Non-Assertive Way

The non-assertive way of operating in the world means that you do not express a large part of what is inside you. You hide your real thoughts, feelings, and wants, perhaps out of insecurity. You do not share the real you, the person who is concealed underneath your quiet, your co-operative exterior.

You are essentially a people pleaser, and the payoff is you are liked by a wide range of people. However, this affection can be on a superficial level, since no one really understands you on a deeper level.

Characteristics of a Non-Assertive Person

  • Puts self-last
  • Lacks confidence
  • Has low self-esteem
  • Lacks self-respect

A non-assertive person goes through life with what Is termed (David Jansen, Margaret Newman – ‘Really Relating’) a ‘gunny sack’ or resentment, heavier than other people. The ‘gunny sack’ carries in its years of unexpressed hurt and resentment.

Relating In an Aggressive Way

Aggressive behaviour does absolutely nothing to make the other person feel good, as it is packed in constant “you” statements and includes criticism, sarcasm, blaming others, ridicule, accusation, threats, withholding, and discounting.

Also, a sharp tone of voice can be enough to send the message of being aggravated.

It is also quite easy, and common, to communicate aggressively without saying a word – simply through body language.

Characteristics of an Aggressive Person.

  • Puts self-first
  • Lacks confidence
  • Has low self-esteem
  • Lacks self-respect and respect for others

Relating in an Assertive Way

When assertive, you have a full awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and wants. You speak for self, respecting your rights and the rights of the other.

Assertive communication in relationships will develop your confidence. You are standing up for yourself without anxiety, preventing you from expressing your real thoughts, feelings, and wants. By expressing feelings honestly, it is easy to build trust.

The assertive communicator respects and exercises their personal rights as well as respects the personal rights of the other. This, in turn, builds self-esteem and sense of self, building stronger relationships – be it in marriage, friendships as well as in the workplace.

By communicating assertively in all relationships, self-confidence and self-image will be much more positive. You also act as an encourager to yourself and to other people, and your relationships are more successful throughout all relationships in life.