Advanced Communication Skills



Good communication can be summarized in one formula:  Intent  =  Impact


To enhance the communication system, there are several skills that may be extremely helpful.  By incorporating some of these skills into your own communication behavior, you may find that your emotional responses change, and that your thinking may change over time as well.


How You Say It:

One behavior you have complete control over is how you say something to another person.  Here are some suggestions on how to improve how things are said in order to avoid shutting down or turning off other people.

  • Be very careful when using statements such as “I am _____.”

(Examples: “I am stupid, I am smarter, I am dumb, I am right, I am always wrong.”)

  • Eliminate these phrases from your vocabulary:

Blame                   Fault                      I’m Sorry

  • Stop using certain phrases that tell the other person that you are being defensive;

“…because…”                                    Justification

“If you would only…”                      Projection

“It’s your fault.”                                                Blaming

“I didn’t do it.”                                  Denial

“Why does that matter…”            Minimization

“Everything would be OK if…”    Delusion

  • Be honest and open.
  • Do not assign blame, keep score, lecture, or judge.
  • Sometimes, agree to disagree. (Example: “You may be right.”)


Mean It When You Say It:

If you are going to expend the emotion, thought and energy to attempt to communicate with someone: communicate in a way so they really understand that you mean what you say.

  • Stay focused on yourself and own your statements by using “I” statements.

(Examples: “I feel…, I think…, I sense…, I will…”)

(Examples: “I hurt when…, I am angry about…, I feel misunderstood when…”)

(Examples: “I want…, I am happy when…, I would prefer…, I believe…”)

  • Take everything that is said seriously.
  • Listen intently and without trying to formulate your next thought: pay attention.


Clarify The Communication:

Use feedback carefully to clarify information in a way that does not attack the other person. There are three effective ways of using feedback;

  • Repeat the message.

(Examples: “I heard you say…, You are telling me…, Let me see if I understood…”)

  • Clarify a specific point.

(Examples: “I heard you say you were anxious, can you tell me what you’re anxious about?”)

  • Summarize what was said.

(Examples: “I understand that you are afraid of losing control; how can I support you?”)


Difficult Subjects:

There are often topics of discussion that individuals or families are uncomfortable with discussing. It is helpful to frame these discussions so every party involved knows there is difficulty in talking about it and will be more likely to be forgiving and flexible when communicating.

(Example: “I would like to talk to you about something very important to me, but I have               difficulty talking about it, so I want to ask you to bear with me while I try to explain.”)


Sensitive Subjects:

There are often topics of great sensitivity for one individual in the conversation. It can be helpful to remind the sensitive party that you understand this may be a difficult conversation and that you will support them and treat them with respect and empathy at all times.

(Example: “I know you may be sensitive about this talk, but I want you to know that I care

for you and will not intentionally hurt you.”)


Angry Subjects:

At times a discussion can turn into a screaming match.  If this happens, it is your job to bring the tone of the conversation back to a mature level.  Simply state, in a calm voice, that you are no longer in an emotional state to have a productive conversation and that you will continue the conversation at a later time after you have calmed down.  Then leave.


Spiritual Subjects:

Many people new to spiritual sharing will feel self-conscious about saying a prayer aloud or sharing a spiritual subject with another person.  If you are uncomfortable, simply ask the other party if they would mind if you shared a prayer, or if they would mind discussing a spiritual topic for a while.  By asking, the discomfort losses its power.

Serene Foundation