Age. The age of the person you are talking to matters. You speak differently to children, teens, and adults. If you are speaking to a child or even teens, try to use short, succinct statements. Avoid sentences with multiple steps unless the person has shown an ability to multi-task.
Especially for young children, body language and tone are important. I strongly recommend when talking to a child, come down to their level, literally. Adults are intimidating to children, sit down or even kneel down when speaking to a child, even if you are angry. You are already in charge, there isn't a need to be physically intimidating as well.
One of the biggest complaints from teens is their parents talk to them like they are children. I know for parents, their kids will always be children. But a conversation can be much more productive if you speak to your teen like they are a young adult. That doesn't mean you agree with everything they say, it just means be aware of your tone and potential for speaking in a condescending manner.
Communication Style. This is a part of communication that gets overlooked. Is the person you are talking to a visual or auditory learner? Some people prefer to have written directions while others can listen to directions and perform flawlessly.
Are you assertive or passive in your communication? How about the other person? Sometimes the message can be lost in the presentation. Be aware of how you present yourself and how the other person presents to you. Sometimes a video of a conversation can provide incredible insight into personal mannerisms.
Previous experiences. History has a tendency of repeating itself. Reflect on what has lead to productive versus unproductive conversations. Share your thoughts with the other person and compare notes. Even if it is unconventional, it may work for you.
Everything that I write about is based from my training and experiences. The writings are more of a guideline than manual. Go with what works for you, as long as there aren't unhealthy consequences.
I've attempted to capture some of the major themes and hurdles to effective, healthy communication in this series. I hope these 4 posts on communication have been helpful. This doesn't mean the posts on communicating are over, there will certainly be more.
As usual, feel free to share this post via facebook, twitter, etc. Comments are welcomed!
Salmaan Toor is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Knoxville, TN. If you are interested in being notified of future posts, you can “like” The Family Center of Knoxville on facebook here or can follow me on Twitter here. Thanks for your support!