Verbal Communication

For a moment, I want you to think about how you respond to those you love. When they come to you to talk about something, what you say determines how they feel about themselves as well as how much they want to tell you.

There are 12 negative responses which make the person you arespeaking to feel insignificant or unimportant. Ironically, according to Dr Gordon, these are our most common responses to both children and loved ones, often inhibiting how much they talk to us.

1.       Ordering, directing and commanding: telling someone to do something, giving them an order or a command.
2.      Warning, admonishing, threatening: telling someone what will occur if they do or do not do something.
3.      Exhorting, moralizing, preacher: telling someone what they ought to do
4.      Advising, giving, solutions or suggestions: telling someone how to solve a problem, giving him advice, or suggestions, providing answers or solution
5.      Lecturing, teaching, giving logical arguments: trying to influence someone with facts, counterarguments, logic , information or your own opinions
6.      Judging, criticizing, disagreeing, blaming: making a negative judgment or evaluation of the person based on their action
7.      Praising or agreeing: offering a positive evaluation or judgment, agreeing
8.     Name-calling, ridiculing, shaming: make someone feel foolish, shaming them
9.      Interpreting, analyzing, diagnosing: telling someone what their motivations are or analyzing what they are doing or saying
10.  Reassuring, sympathizing, consoling, supporting: trying to make the person feel better, talking them out of their feelings, trying to make your feelings go away
11.   Probing, questioning, interrogating: trying to find reasons, motives, causes, searching for more information to help them solve the problem
12.  Withdrawing, distracting, humoring, diverting: trying to get someone to get away from the problem, to withdraw from the problem, distracting the person from the issue, pushing the problem aside

Now, what if there were a way to get those whom you love to want to talk without being prodded, to want to share and to look forward to conversations. These simple actions can help build this communication.

  • Use simple door-opener responses: give them an invitation to say more.  Don’t judge what they are saying, don’t add your opinion; don’t tell them what to do. Instead say things like:  I see, oh, um hmmm, how about that, interesting, really, you don’t say, etc…
  • Use active listening: check in with the person you are speaking with to make sure that you understand that they are saying, what they are asking for or how they are feeling.
  • Remember what you say is probably not what the other person hears: each of us defines words differently based on past experiences.
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