How to Develop Communication Skills Rule #1: Take Responsibility for Your Own Anger
There really are ways to learn how to develop communication skills and some of the rules for effective communication are obvious. For example, in order for a young child to learn to talk, he or she must be able to listen and speak. The little boy or girl must acquire a minimal amount of emotonal control. It’s really difficult for them to listen if they are thrashing about on the floor in a rage. It really doesn’t get much more simple than that. So rule number 1 for how to develop communication skills is: you must learn how to manage anger because your uncontrolled anger destroys listening (which, in turn, destroys communication).
Now, consider a couple having a conflict that is getting them nowhere fast. He doesn’t feel like he is really hearing what she is saying. She feels misunderstood. They are both beginning to boil with anger. They each speak louder and louder to try to slam their own point home. They both get more and more defensive with each increase of the volume. Listening crashes and burns.
Misunderstandings come out in droves like bats exiting a cave en masse after sundown. The growing tension and anger spawns an irratioinal, frenzied thought process that pretty much nails the coffin shut on any hope of productive communication. That point you thought you made so well and so “passionately” turns out to be misunderstood as an insult that is not easily forgotten. How does a couple make sense of all this the next day? Rule Number One.
How to Develop Communications Skills Rule #2: Change the Question
Rule number 2 is: change the question. When couples later analyze together an exchange like I just described, they often see it in terms of blame. So the second rule for learning how to develop communication skills quickly is to change the question. Instead of, “Who is at fault here?” the question needs to become, “How can I calm myself down enough to listen?” Rule #2 requires effort, but it also requires some thinking prior to the argument. But the real benefit is that you change the feel of the entire conversation and begin to break out of fixed patterns of communication. You are starting to learn how to manage your anger by changing the focus and holding it there.
Rule #3: Practice Relaxation Exercises Ahead of Time
The third rule for how to develop communication skills quickly is to find a method for learning physical relaxation skills. Relaxation exercises involving slow, paced breathing allows your brain to see that your lungs are calming down, and so your brain will give orders to the rest of your body to become relaxed. This is an important rule for learning quickly how to develop communication skills. You simply have to calm yourself if you are going to listen and you simply cannot have a productive conversation without listening. I find that most people think they already know this and that self-deception becomes part of the problem. Also, I find that people are often unwilling to set aside daily practice time for relaxation exercises perhaps because they think they already know how to do such a “simple” thing.
How to Develop Communications Skills in a Nutshell
But if you are serious about learning how to develop communication skills in marriage, it’s wise to start by paying some attention to these three rules:
- Take responsibility for learning how to manage anger, for controlling your own boiling emotions, and for the volume of your own voice during an arguement.
- Change the question. Instead of asking “Who is to blame here?,” focus on how you can calm yourself down enough to listen.
- Find a method for learning physical relaxation skills and practice your method daily for 2 to 3 weeks.