Do any of the following statements resonate with you?
- “I try to tell him/her how I feel and we just end up fighting.”
- “Instead of sharing my feelings, I keep things bottled up until I explode.”
- “I’m afraid to ask for what I need because I don’t know how to say it and don’t want it to go badly.”
- “I never feel like s/he truly hears and understands what I am saying.”
Communication is the most powerful tool individuals have to grow, strengthen and improve their relationships. Good communication skills enhance all types of relationships—at work, home, school, etc. And yet, trouble with communication is one of the most common reasons people seek counseling. Oftentimes clients come in with relationship issues, only to later realize the real problem is lack of positive communication skills.
We are not born with good communication skills. These skills must be learned and practiced over time, well into adulthood. Without positive communication skills people may find that they come off as passive or aggressive, when really they just do not know how to share their thoughts and feelings in an appropriate manner. Romantic relationships especially suffer when individuals lack healthy communication skills. Individuals in love relationships often end up feeling misunderstood, sad, angry and frustrated when good communication is missing.
However, there is a way to feel heard and understood, to talk without fighting, to express one’s needs and demonstrate assertiveness at work, home, school, etc. Individuals wanting to get the most out of every life relationship must learn and practice positive communication skills.
A licensed mental health counselor helps clients learn and practice these skills. The therapist provides insight into how factors like family of origin experiences, life experiences, culture, gender, expectations, assumptions and various other dynamics influence clients’ communication patterns. Counselors support and coach clients as they practice new communication skills in and between sessions. Over time, clients using their newfound skills feel heard, express their deepest wants and needs and begin to enjoy their various relationships in ways they never thought possible.