Have you ever been in a situation where you need to have a difficult conversation and you’re just not sure how best to tackle it? We all have! The mistake people often make is going into such a conversation with the need to be right. Trying to convince someone that you are right often does 2 things …
- they feel like you’re saying they are therefore wrong (no-one likes to be wrong)
- they don’t feel heard. In fact, if you’re so intent to be right, they probably weren’t heard!
Supportive communication will allow both parties to feel heard, understood and you are much more likely to have a conversation which results in a positive outcome for both people.
Think back to a conversation you’ve had recently which was less than ideal. How did you feel? What was the outcome? Did it strengthen or weaken your relationship with the person you were communicating with? Chances are the communication was unsupportive – maybe on both sides.
Here are some tips on how to communicate supportively. Although it may seem challenging in the heat of the moment, I promise it will result in better outcomes for everyone. Remember, practice makes perfect!
|Congruent: match between verbal & non-verbal communication||Incongruent: mismatch between thoughts/feelings & communications|
|Descriptive: true description of facts & observations, not perceptions||Evaluative: makes judgment of or labels behaviour|
|Problem-oriented: focuses on problems & solutions, not behaviours||Person-oriented: hard to change personality therefore inappropriate focus on person|
|Validating: people feel understood, recognised, accepted||Invalidated: negative feelings of self-worth, identity|
|Specific: focus on a specific event/behaviour that can be changed||Global: extreme/absolute or deny possible alternatives|
|Conjunctive: smooth flow and relevance of comments||Disjunctive: lack of equal time, inappropriate pauses, disjointed or unrelated|
|Owned: ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’ – acceptance of responsibility||Disowned: Third party language, creates confusion|
|Supportive listening: Listening needs to be highlighted to communicator||One-way message delivery: delivery without consideration for other parties opinion, needs|