Good communication skills make addiction recovery and life in general easier in many ways. One way is that better communication skills reduce hassles. Most of our stress in life comes from interpersonal conflict. Much of this conflict could be resolved easily if one or both parties had good communication skills. Thus, being a good communicator can significantly reduce stress, which makes recovery easier. Another way good communication skills make life easier is by improving relationships. It’s hard to get along with people you can’t communicate with. Having stronger relationships through better communication reduces your stress, increases emotional support, and increases the resources you have to confront problems. Most of us aren’t taught how to be good communicators. The following tips are quick and easy ways to communicate more effectively.
Listening is the most important part of communication. What passes for listening is often just being quiet or trying to think of what you’re going to say when the other person stops talking. Instead of assuming you know what the other person is trying to say and thinking that what you have to say is more valid, try to listen actively with the intention of understanding.
When the other person finishes talking, pause for a couple of seconds. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows space for the speaker to finish a thought if necessary. Second, it shows that you were listening, that you understand, and that you’re seeking an appropriate response. You may also want to repeat back the main point of what the person just told you so you can be sure you understood correctly. Shifting focus away from asserting your own opinion, and towards information gathering and understanding allows the conversation to be much more productive.
Pay Attention to Body Language
Experts agree that much of communication is non-verbal. Body language and tone of voice are important and play a large role in successful communication and conflict resolution. Considering this, It’s especially important that your words and body language don’t conflict. For example, if you say you’re happy to see someone but you’re scowling at them with your arms crossed, which are they going to believe? Bringing awareness to body language may feel awkward at first, but practice will make it easier. Being conscious of basic things, like whether your arms are crossed, if your hands are in your pockets, if you’re slouching or if you’re smiling or frowning, is a good starting point.
Thoughts are often not conveyed as clearly as you might assume. Since you know and understand what you’re trying to say, you may feel like you’ve gotten your point across when in reality, you haven’t. One way to deal with this problem is to try explaining yourself in a few different ways. For example, you might try to explain something directly, then by way of analogy, then by way of a story or specific example. Doing this promotes clarity and supports the listener’s ability to understand and relate to what you are saying.
Communication is just one of the many important skills necessary for addiction recovery. Individual and group therapy are excellent opportunities to improve these skills, which affect not only your recovery but your life as a whole. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, we help men build essential skills for recovery and life. To learn more about our unique addiction treatment program, call us today at 855-202-2138.