There are times in every relationship when it's important to communicate how we're feeling to others. We may have issues, annoyances, be upset, or there may be something of especial significance that needs a little time set aside in order to discuss it fully.
It can be tempting to second-guess how our words will be received and what the reaction will be. This can be compounded if we're feeling uneasy or apprehensive at voicing how we feel. It can escalate in our minds into a stressful conversation.
Feeling this way can put us at a disadvantage before we even open our mouths. It can cause tension and awkwardness to occur in our relationship. If we anticipate problems, setbacks and disapproval before anything has even been said it can cause us to regard the other person in a negative light. This view may have no bearing on reality, and yet over time can seriously influence the way we feel about the other person, potentially damaging the relationship.
So, let's look at those times when we really need to speak our mind in an effective way:
- When we anticipate trouble we prepare mentally in order to protect ourselves. We can become defensive and that mindset will influence how we behave, the words we use, our tone of voice and our body language. When we're feeling a little nervous it's far better to try to remain calm, ask questions and uncover all the facts, rather than jump to conclusions and pre-empt what happens next.
- Focus on a good outcome and think positively about what it is that you want. When we say 'I don't suppose', 'I know I'm wasting my time asking' or 'you won't like this, but' we're setting the scene for a negative outcome. Many people don't realise how their words sound, what type of message they're unconsciously communicating or how they influence other people's perceptions. Gradually a positive or negative way of thinking becomes a habit. It's important to ensure that we develop good habits in our communication skills.
- From the outset determine to scatter positive suggestions and assumptions into your conversations. It sews the seeds for your success. Subtlety is the key. Referring to something that you want to receive/achieve/or expect to happen in a positive way can smooth the pathway to your desired outcome and remove the possibility of any other result.
- Be sure to present yourself well through your choice of words, your body language and tone of voice. You reinforce your message by nodding, smiling and accentuating all the positive benefits. Pause when you say something of particular significance and let your words take effect. Don't rush when speaking as that can indicate discomfort, embarrassment, uncertainty or a lack of confidence in what you're saying. By speaking slower you indicate that you're feeling calm, in control and happy to take your time.
- Be aware of any areas of dissent or controversy and be ready to appreciate the other person's point of
view; be prepared to acknowledge those concerns. Have considered responses ready in case you're challenged, or you might even choose to deal with some of those points before they're raised. By doing this you demonstrate that you've given serious thought to what you want to say.
- Be prepared to give ground on things that are less important to you. Good negotiations include a readiness to compromise. If, for example, a young person wanted to go to a late night party a compromise might involve them agreeing to be dropped off or picked up afterwards at a particular time. This could result in their parents agreeing to transport them, the young person is allowed to attend the party and the parents are happy at knowing the address and their child's travel arrangements.
- Letting the other person claim credit for your good ideas can sometimes be a useful negotiation tactic. Guiding a discussion and interspersing ideas, hints or suggestions can sometimes result in those ideas being claimed by another person, as if they'd thought of them. You can smile, whilst getting what you want and allow them to feel good about their 'inspired' thinking. Being generous about the outcome allows everyone to enjoy a win/win result.
When we're clear about our wishes and are projecting ourselves in a positive way we show others that we feel confident and are taking responsibility for our own happiness and decisions. Everyone around us benefits when we're calm and assertive. We can overcome objections, sometimes in advance of them being raised. When we clarify our thoughts, overcome negative thinking and present ourselves as valuable, deserving and positive we're able to say what we've got to say in a constructive way.