Sometimes it feels almost impossible to get your family, friends, or significant other to listen to your feelings and meet your needs. Here are three More2Life hacks, inspired by my book, God Help Me, These People Are Driving Me Nuts! that will help you effectively communicate your needs and start living a happier, healthier life!
1. Don’t Bury the Lede–When writers don’t start with the juiciest parts of the story, it’s called “Burying the lede.” Often, in our attempt to either be polite or give people all the facts, we talk around things rather than stating our needs and feelings up front, then we get offended when people’s attention wanders or they miss the point. When communicating, state your need or feeling up front. For instance, “I’d really like to get some time together, when are you available this week?” or “I was really frustrated with the way thus and such turned out. Let’s talk about how to do that better next time.” If you really want people to listen, don’t start with “Once upon a time” and get to your point around chapter three. Start with your point. Let any additional context come out in the conversation.
2. End With A Plan–When you talk with someone about your needs or solving a problem, don’t ever end the conversation without clear follow-up points. Too often, we feel like venting is the same thing as problem solving. Clients tell me all the time, “we talked about that problem a lot.” But when I say, “Great, and what did you decide to do about it.” I’m met with stunned silence. When people say, “I talked to him about that.” What they usually mean is, “I complained about that.” Complaining isn’t communicating, venting isn’t problem-solving. If a problem or need is important enough to talk about, don’t leave the conversation without know who is going to follow up with what, and when you are are going to check in with each other about it. If you want to feel listened to, always end with a plan.
3. When Words Don’t Work, Don’t Use More Words–When someone doesn’t want to listen to you, when they ignore your needs or refuse to deal with a problem, continuing to talk about it is not only fruitless, it is counterproductive. If someone doesn’t want to deal with a problem, one of the best ways to delay it is to simply agree to talk about it more without ever agreeing to do anything. If you have spoken to someone about your concerns a few times without getting any result, stop using words. Take action. Ask yourself what steps you will need to take to address the problem or meet the need on your own, then do it. If the other person complains, firmly, but gently, point out that you tried to enlist their help but they refused to talk about it, so you had no choice but to handle it. Then explain that next time, if they want a say in the solution, they should help you make a plan when you come to them in the first place. Don’t get caught up in the game of talking something to death so nothing ever has to change. When words don’t work, take action.
For more tips and tricks on how to improve your communication and relationships, tune in to More2Life, Monday-Friday 10am E/9am C on EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.