Skip to main content
Forums Home
Illustration of people sitting and standing

New here?

Chat with other people who 'Get it'

with health professionals in the background to make sure everything is safe and supportive.

Register

Have an account?
Login

cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Social Spaces

Re: Effective Communication: Month-long Discussion

@NatureLover  I'm so glad you find this useful! Smiley Very Happy I can really relate to your experience of wanting to jump in and offer advice when it comes to our area of expertise, I'm still guilty of doing this at times! It's hard to withhold practical help or knowledge when we have the answers someone needs. Something that I have tried in these situations is asking "Would you like my opinion/advice on this?" and proceeding accordingly. 

 

Also great point about how nodding can be miscontrued as agreement! Nodding is definitely one of those cues that we can use sparingly in conversations about views we don't align with. I'd love to hear whether saying "I feel a bit uncomfortable talking about X, can we talk about something else?" helps in future conversations with friends Heart

 

 

@Appleblossom , thank you for sharing! I hear your experience with being raised with little voice and I'm sorry to hear of the barriers and hardships you still face with regards to communication. I was raised very much the same, and still find assertive communication difficult at times - not just in its usage but also in the backlash assertive communication can sometimes cause. You're absolutely right that assertive communication won't solve all the challenges we face nor be the right style in every situation, but also I hope that it can at the very least help us build our confidence to ask for what we need or set boundaries when needed Heart

Re: Effective Communication: Month-long Discussion


@cloudcore wrote:

Also great point about how nodding can be miscontrued as agreement! Nodding is definitely one of those cues that we can use sparingly in conversations about views we don't align with. I'd love to hear whether saying "I feel a bit uncomfortable talking about X, can we talk about something else?" helps in future conversations with friends Heart


Thanks, @cloudcore . Yes, I generally stop the nodding if the conversation gets too extreme...that is a clear signal from me that I'm uncomfortable, but it usually doesn't get picked up on. I will try to be more clear and assertive next time.

 


@cloudcore wrote:

@NatureLover  I'm so glad you find this useful! Smiley Very Happy I can really relate to your experience of wanting to jump in and offer advice when it comes to our area of expertise, I'm still guilty of doing this at times! It's hard to withhold practical help or knowledge when we have the answers someone needs. Something that I have tried in these situations is asking "Would you like my opinion/advice on this?" and proceeding accordingly. 


This is great advice, thanks Smiley Happy

Re: Effective Communication: Month-long Discussion

@NatureLover I just realised I jumped in and gave advice, the irony! Still learning myself Smiley LOLHeart Communicating on the forums is a whole other ballpark hahah

Re: Effective Communication: Month-long Discussion

Haha @cloudcore ! I didn't even notice, let alone take offence! It was wanted advice - you are the expert and running this discussion, so it was totally fine! Smiley Happy

Re: Effective Communication: Month-long Discussion

Emotional Regulation and Empathy

 

To wrap up our discussion on effective communication skills, it’s important for us to go through emotional regulation and empathy.

 

 

Emotional Regulation

Emotional reactions are normal and okay. However, letting those emotions influence the way we respond during a conversation can impact our ability communicate effectively and thus cause tension and misunderstandings in our relationships. Our emotions alone do not communicate what we need, and emotions without context can lead to people making assumptions about our character and dismiss us. It’s important for us to regulate our emotions when they arise so that we can communicate what we think, feel and need clearly.


Regulating our emotions, however, is not about ignoring or pretending not to have emotions and feelings. Emotional regulation involves noticing and acknowledging our emotions with care and acceptance, and attending to our emotional and physical needs so that we may respond (not react!) to others from a place of self-compassion and composure.

For example, if someone uses a triggering label to describe us, we may experience anger and then react with hostility and shouting, or tears and silence. These reactions can cause the other person to get defensive or dismissive and shut down the conversation.
To respond in a situation like this, we must first regulate our emotions. This can look like:

  • Noticing the hot flush in our cheeks, the tension in our shoulders and our increased heart rate
  • Acknowledging and naming the anger and hurt we are feeling, and
  • Attending to our needs by pausing and taking a few deep breaths. Also reminding ourselves it’s okay to be angry and hurt, and releasing the tension by rolling our shoulders or massaging them with our hands.


We may notice that by acknowledging and validating our emotions, they feel less overwhelming and uncontrollable. It can then enable us to calmly communicate a clear and firm boundary that other person can understand (you can refer to this post on how to do it). It can look like saying “It’s not okay to use that label with me going forward in this conversation as it is hurtful and offensive”, or “I am feeling angry and hurt by the use of that label, I need some space right now to process this”. Boundaries are important for healthy relationships and can foster respect, empathy and understanding between two people.

 

We recognise however it can be really hard to regulate our emotions when we don’t recognise the emotions we’re experiencing, when we’ve been through traumatic experiences, and/or live with complex mental health issues (for myself, I’ve needed anti-anxiety medication in order to regulate emotions around fear in the past!). It is a skill that takes a lot of practice and it is okay if you are struggling with these experiences Heart

 

 

 

Empathy

Empathy is about stepping into the shoes of another person with the intention to better understand and feel what they are experiencing. It is expressed in our choice to be fully present with someone and listen beyond their words for their feelings and unmet needs. Empathy can lead to new solutions, more trust in relationships, better strategies for social change, and reduction in loneliness and conflict. It shows to the other people that you “get” what they’re going through!

 

Being empathetic, however, does not mean we are agreeing or have to agree with the person we are speaking to. It only involves an effort to understand other another’s perspective.

Key empathy skills can include:

  • Asking empathetic questions.
    Not all questions can lead to connection. A key feature of an empathetic question is it invites the other person to be introspective and vulnerable. Here are some to keep in mind:
    “What was experience like for you?/How has that experience impacted you?”
    “How did that make you feel?”
    “Have you felt like this before?”
    “What does that mean for you?”
    “What is your relationship with them/that like?”
    “What are your next steps?/What are you going to do next?”
    “How can I support you through this?”

 

  • Acknowledging and validating pain/emotions.
    When we connect with someone’s pain or emotions, it helps them feel supported. It shows we understand (or are trying to understand) how they might be feeling. People in pain and distress want to be heard, and they want validation that what they are going through is difficult and their feelings are okay. As mentioned though, acknowledging and validating emotions and pain does not mean you agree with the person or the reason they are experiencing those emotions, only that you see and accept their experiences.
    This can look like:
    “That sounds awful”,
    “I’m sorry to hear you are going through this, your anger is completely understandable”,
    “That must have been really hard, it’s okay to be disappointed”,
    “I can see why this has been really challenging and scary for you”,
    “I hear how much that hurts, it’s understandable that you’re upset”,
    “I can see you are frustrated, I would be to”.

  • Active listening.
    This includes showing that you are listening (non-verbal cues), withholding judgement and advice and reflecting feelings (which is explained here).

 

Why is empathy so scarce and so difficult (Source)?  

  • It’s threatening. If we truly seek to understand another’s point of view, we might discover our closely held positions are limited or exposed, and we might even be challenged to change our thinking.
  • It’s emotional. Perhaps even more scary than an unwanted perspective is an unwanted feeling. As we put ourselves in that other person’s shoes, we might feel some of distress and discomfort the other person is feeling. When we experience strong emotions, often the last thing we want to do is seek to understand, and physiologically, our body goes into self-protection mode.
  • It’s humbling. If we are genuinely empathetic, not only is it possible that we are reminded that we don’t know everything, we might also learn that another person is not as ignorant, wrong or mean as we had made them out to be. They may even show us they show us more character than we ourselves hold.

 

For the community to reflect on:

  1. What is your experience with emotional regulation? Which emotions are harder for you to regulate?
  2. What questions have other's asked you which have let you to be more instrospective and vulnerable? Are those questions you could ask others?
  3. What are some emotional regulation and empathy skills that you know and practice?

 

Illustration of people sitting and standing

New here?

Chat with other people who 'Get it'

with health professionals in the background to make sure everything is safe and supportive.

Register

Have an account?
Login

For urgent assistance: