It can be easy for individuals to misunderstand or misinterpret others, and these misunderstandings may lead to arguments or tension in personal, platonic, or professional relationships. Numerous situations contribute to communication issues, including daily stress, trauma, cultural or language barriers, physical and mental health issues, or someone having poor listening skills.
It is important to know the right way to communicate. Some individuals find that therapy can be helpful in improving their ability to express their thoughts and emotions. Not only does it help facilitate the improvement of interpersonal skills, it helps individuals improve the quality, nature, and frequency of their communications.
A trained therapist can help individuals examine communication strategies to determine whether one’s “style” adequately conveys one’s thoughts, needs, and goals, verbally or non-verbally. They can also help patients explore what causes them to interpret things differently and help them create a mindset where conversations can be viewed as a way for them — and others — to share certain viewpoints and convey their ideas.
This is accomplished by using therapeutic methods to help patients open lines of communication and resolve conflict by actively listening, asking questions, and being respectful of others.
When it comes to family or intimate relationships, conflicts often arise because another person’s statements or motivations were misunderstood. Most will benefit from participating in family or couples’ therapy. Truly understanding where someone is coming from can allow each family member to be heard and stay connected to one another. While in therapy, patients learn how communicating effectively makes it a lot easier for everyone to bring up issues, make requests, and resolve conflicts when they arise.
Others may have communication issues due to unresolved conflicts, substance abuse, a repressed childhood trauma, or a mental health condition that requires them to put forth extra effort to communicate. A mental health professional can often help patients uncover and resolve unconscious thoughts and emotions and provide them with the tools to enhance their ability to communicate.
Strategies to improve communication and resolve conflict
- Get to the point when talking with someone to make sure you are heard and understood.
- Express feelings in a way that begins with “I.” It allows someone an opportunity to tell their own truth and avoid any misunderstandings or making the other person defensive.
- Direct communication hinges on people speaking for themselves, not others. This leads to misunderstandings because only that person knows how they truly feel. Problems can often be avoided if everyone is responsible for expressing only their own feelings and no one else’s.
- It is easier to change behavior than it is to change someone’s traits, personality, attitude, or feelings. Ideal communication relies on both parties focusing on behaviors rather than traits, and making it clear to the other person what makes them upset.