Effective Communication Hacks

  • Chill out. Get out of your tunnel vision of frustration and “I must be right” mentality and think about something completely off topic. Get mindful in the moment; even if you have to get mindful of how many tiles are on your floor (yes count), the lyrics to a song. Just stop thinking for one minute about the interaction you hope to have and the emotions that come with it. Obsessing about the outcome of a future event will only heighten your anxiety and make you less confident.
  • Be mindful of the other person. Trying to have a conversation during their favorite TV show or after what appears to be a tough day may not be the best timing. Interrupting, or being neglectful of others’ time, is a big button pusher for many people. It’s invalidating and can make others feel as though you don’t care about what they are doing or their mood. If you don’t know when a good time would be, ask.
  • Avoid the word “but”, instead use “and”. In any situation try to avoid “but” at all costs. It invalidates others and often causes the other person to feel defensive. “You did a great job on that project, but you should check your proofreading next time.” Wow, what a back-handed compliment! The listener doesn’t even hear the praise now. They are focused on what they did wrong. Using the word “and” instead forces you to change the outcome of the statement. “You did a great job on that presentation, and try to spell check a bit more if you can. I know it can be a hassle sometimes.”
  • Be Fair. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Let other people talk. Really, hear them out, too.
  • Avoid all or nothing thinking. The words, always and never, especially when accompanied by “you”, are generally not effective when trying to make a point. “He is always late or never on time” is not true. We are generalizing in an internal attempt to make them feel empathy for our frustration. It may be true that they are rarely on time. However, use a word that doesn’t have as much heat to it. Try “Often it feels like” or “Recently, I have noticed”. They are not all or nothing; they are more subjective, effective terms.

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