Muddling through with the millennials - ten new habits for healthy communication
What a summer it has been.The summer of 2018 will remain in the memory a GP or Psychotherapist for, at least, the amazing weather and the record of stressed-related issues arising.This summer has revealed the highest numbers of stressed and overwhelmed families, adults and adolescents reaching out to understand why they are feeling so low in mood, so dissatisfied, so anxious.
Since you cannot take things out of context, when I hear people remark about how things used to be I immediately apply the thought of how we are now and how we used to be, within each generation.Thirty years ago, technology held limited control on society.Today, it influences society to the extreme.Anything which influences society to an extreme begins to take over how society is shaped.I liken this influence to a drug put into the water of every household, where the inhabitants unwittingly sip away, taking in the drug which invokes the behaviours of someone who finds it hard to concentrate, to listen or connect, resulting in limited patience.
It seems as though there is a huge need for re-education within our society in order for communities to function more effectively at a very basic level.To keep things in context, we do need to connect through technology too, but first and foremost communication with each other in person needs to be seen as a priority, setting the building blocks of good communication on solid ground.
This is where new ways of connecting are much needed, to deepen and enrich our relationships, and to encourage the young who are our future and to lead by example.Together, we can use our wealth of knowledge and experience to make our communities a good place to live.
Listed below are ten suggestions on the most topical changes to make which have been found to positively influence communication with the millennials, in particular, as well as society in general.
The following points are geared towards a relationship with one other person but can be applied to whole groups of people to learn how to take up and give space to others with the support of others. This includes having no distractions during the time when you sit down to take time to connect, with no phone, iPad or pet, just each other.
- Actively listening.When you actively listen to another person, you are concentrating on what they are saying.You are then in a place to understand what they are saying.I often hear two people speak and come out of the conversation with completely different views on what the person actually meant.This is because each individual has had a different experience of the world, understands things differently and hears what they want to hear, unconsciously matching the words and meaning to their set of values and beliefs.
- Actively responding.The act of responding focusses upon gaining a better understanding of what the person in front of you is saying.By reflecting back what you think you have heard and asking if you have heard them correctly, this enables you both to be on the same page.
- Making time to be let someone know they have been heard.Whether you are interested in what they are saying or not, taking a minute to let the person know they have been heard gives the other person a sense of connection and being heard.Think of how you feel when someone shows an interest in what you have to say.You feel acknowledged.
- Acknowledge what your reaction to another means to you.Know that ultimately this reaction is a reflection of something deep within you and, on an unconscious level, this is being projected to the person you are reacting to.When you feel tense or reactive, stop, take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to make a different decision on how you respond.Communicating from a reactive place never works out well in the long term.Responding from a measured place changes the way others communicate with you.
- Let the person into your world.Sometimes we expect others to know what we are thinking without communicating our wishes.This could go on for a long time and lead to destructive patterns setting in.Communicate your wishes plainly and calmly when the other person is in a place to listen.
- Old habits.When someone has a way of doing something or being a certain way that you find annoying, and you have tried to let them know that you find this difficult to be around, look at what this means to you.It may be a trigger from a past experience.Sometimes others do things to invoke a reaction in you for attention. Ask the person about what they are doing and how they are feeling when they do it.This often resolves the situation.If they carry on, it is time to focus on something else and to let it go.Some habits are hard to break when they serve a purpose.
- Noticing triggers.When someone knows how to press your buttons, and you react, they become the puppeteer and you the puppet.A button is pressed and a performance is carried out.The body is an indicator when you feel triggered.There is tension felt in a part of your body, whether this be your head, your heart or your stomach area.Take a moment to notice where you feel the tension; this allows you to take stock and make another choice in the moment.
- Change your environment. The environmental influences stimulate the mind into a more relaxed way of thinking when you are in a quiet de-cluttered space.Find a place where you feel comfortable and without distraction.This could be in nature or around the home; ideally a place at home where you can regularly go to talk openly, sewing the seeds for new habits to form.
- Find out what is needed.When the person in front of you appears uncomfortable, upset or irritated, ask them how you can help.People often lash out when they are upset, as old needs which were perhaps not met are rising to the surface (the child within is present and needs comfort).This could take the form of a hug or kind words, depending on the individual’s needs.Some find it hard to have close contact when upset and need space to calm; others need physical comfort in the moment.
- Notice your tone. Noticing how you feel when you speak, whether the tone of your voice feels strained or out of balance in some way, allows you to be an observer on how you are received by others. Recording your voice or conversation and playing it back can be a useful way to notice how you use your voice when communicating with others.Tone has a huge impact on how your words are received and responded to. Ask for feedback on how you speak when in a calm, open mood.Let the person know that you value them and are there for them when they need you, and thank them for letting you know. This type of communication melts hearts, allows people in and brings people closer together.True communication equals true connection.
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About Marie-Louise Rolfe
I walk with others on their journey to enable them to live a grounded and uplifted life, in whichever form this may be for the individual. From grief to joy, from low self-esteem to self-confidence, from anxiety to excitement, from challenging to wholesome relationship with self and others.