We all want to get along better with others, sometimes it just feels so damn awkward with certain people though! The following communication skills exercises will help you learn how to understand and communicate better with others.
1. Remember that however unreasonable someone is acting their behaviour is derived from a positive intention. When you ‘act as if’ all behaviour has a positive intention behind it, through discovering it, your life will become more pleasant. An example: You meet an angry person and you think how childish and silly they are. But if you were to ask yourself, “what is the positive intention behind this persons angry behaviour?“, you could come up with something useful that allows you to feel more comfortable. For instance people often act angry because behind this they believe it will protect them from harm.
2. When you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in an interaction ‘get some perspective’ by disassociating. In your minds eye see yourself and the other person interacting over there, rather like you would if you were to see a movie of the situation.
3. Step into their shoes. This is one of the most powerful methods on how to solve relationship problems by gaining wisdom into your relationship with others. To begin you imagine communicating with the other person, noticing how they talk, observe their facial expressions and so on. You then ‘step into their shoes’ and see through their eyes and hear through their ears. So of course you will be looking at yourself! Run through a conversation you’ve had before that could of been better. Notice ‘yourself’ and become aware of how seeing things from this other persons perspective gives you knew insights into the relationship.
4. What assumptions are you making about the other person? Are you willing to challenge those assumptions? Pick one. What is the opposite of that? Eg) Narrow minded/Open minded. Now imagine interacting with the person with this new attitude.
5. Step into the ‘WE’ frame: Think about a person you want to get along with better. Disassociate: Picture both of you, over there, interacting in your minds eye. Now allow yourself to find a common purpose between the two of you. Of course if you can’t come up with anything you can always fall back on the fact that you are just two human beings who are trying to experience more happiness.
6. ‘Funify’ your boss (or that irritating colleague): Many people want to solve relationship problems with their boss. It’s often due to being too serious. So here is a Rapid Humour Therapy trick to inject the antidote: FUN! Ok, picture your boss or whoever. And then notice their facial features. What stands out? Is it their nose, their eyes, eye brows, chin? Now you simply exaggerate those features rather like a caricature cartoonist does. Exaggerate and ‘funify’ it in such a way that it makes you laugh or at least feel better towards that person.
7. No Failure, Only Feedback (or Learning Experiences.) A really useful way to make beneficial changes is to view everything as a learning experience. So thinking about a relationship you find challenging, notice how you usually respond to the person and then ask yourself, “How else could I respond?” How many different ways could you respond in your interactions? Come up with at least 3 possibilities. This enables your mind to generate more flexibility of behaviour.
8. Often when we experience difficulties in our relationships it is due to focusing on faults. This distorts our perception of the overall relationship, which is really a mixture of good and bad qualities. To solve relationship problems we need to re-focus our attention on the bigger picture by remembering the qualities we admire in the other person. Come up with three, picture them, increase the size of the images and place them around an image of the ‘faulty’ qualities of the person. And remember positive intention, take a look at Tip 1 again!
9. What would be the consequence of staying stuck in the same relationship dynamic with a particular person, say 25 years from now?! The fact is if you want to solve relationship problems YOU are going to have to change your viewpoints or attitude. It’s OK, this can be fairly simple. Imagine stepping into the future 25 years from now and look back at that relationship and notice that it has remained in the same stuck pattern year after year for 25 years! Looking at it like this, acting as if it could really happen, allow your feelings to arise that make you say, “enough is enough I MUST change my point of view!”
10. Think of someone you would like to get along with better. Choose someone of medium level “problematic-ness” and then read the follow questions slowly: Isn’t it true that all of the problems that we experience when relating to others is due to OUR feelings? What if we were to change our feelings? This could make things easier didn’t it?
If you want to solve relationship problems and experience more satisfying relationships you are going to have to gain some new perspectives that enable you to communicate more effectively. Practicing one or more of the communication skills exercises above will help you achieve this more easily!