Speak for Understanding

26By Tonya Ladipo

There’s talking for the sake of talking and then there’s talking for the sake of understanding our experiences. Just like listening is key for communication so is speaking. It is not a debate, not a chance to out talk someone, or to prove that you are right and they are wrong. It’s talking so the other person can understand you and your experiences.

Before engaging in conversations consider what you need to do to speak so you will be heard. Oftentimes yelling, cursing, or being condescending makes people tune out whatever you are saying. This isn’t to say that conversations should be monotone or without emotion. On the contrary, conversations are often full of emotion (excitement, nervousness, anger, etc.). But be mindful of how you are speaking is experienced by others. communication

Many people are familiar with the concept of using “I” language when speaking. The point is to start statements with the word “I”. For example, “I need more time with you” or “I feel neglected when you are constantly on the phone.”This is a great guiding principle when speaking to be understood. It also helps to avoid the temptation of using blaming language (e.g. “you’re always on the phone!”) when explaining your exprience.

Finally, when you are having a conversation and saying what you need to say, pause to check-in with the other person. Don’t assume that the person understands what you mean. Stop and ask them. If they don’t know what you’re saying then try it again using different words. If you’re still at an impasse then ask to take a break so you can think it through and come back to the conversation when you have new words to explain your experiences and needs.

Tonya is the fabulous founder and director of The Ladipo Group where she works with our team of therapists to ensure that you get the high-quality and effective services that you deserve. Tonya also facilitates quarterly workshops to help you live your life better.

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