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  • Writer's pictureDezerrae Sanchez

How to build bonds with communication

Happy Friday! I the week has been treating you well. Today's topic includes relationships and how we can build strong and healthy bonds. Strong, healthy relationships are essential for our overall well-being. They provide support, love, and a sense of belonging. However, building and nurturing these connections require effective communication skills. Healthy relationships do not just involve friends, family, and loved ones. We can practice and encourage healthy relationships in all settings including professional, casual, or infrequent relationships. I would like to explore practical steps to improve communication and develop healthier relationships. Whether you're struggling with conflicts, misunderstandings, or simply wanting to enhance your connection with others, these tips will empower you to build stronger bonds and cultivate fulfilling relationships. 1. Active Listening: The Foundation of Effective Communication Effective communication begins with active listening. Often, we are so focused on expressing ourselves and what we are going to say next that we forget to truly hear what others have to say. By doing so we will miss the important message the speaker is trying to convey. Active listening involves giving our full attention to the speaker, maintaining eye contact, and showing genuine interest. By doing so, we create a safe and supportive environment that encourages open dialogue. Additionally, paraphrasing and summarizing what we've heard can help ensure we understand the speaker's perspective accurately. For example, asking questions or clarifying what you have heard to ensure everyone is on the same page; "I hear you saying xyz, is that correct?" Active listening fosters empathy, promotes understanding, and lays the groundwork for healthier communication. 2. Nonviolent Communication: Resolving Conflicts with Compassion People often avoid raising concerns, discussing needs, or setting boundaries because they are worried about causing a problem. However, not all conflict is bad. If we do not acknowledge and express there is a problem, there will never be a resolution. Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but how we handle it determines the outcome. Nonviolent Communication (NVC), developed by Marshall Rosenberg, offers a compassionate approach to conflict resolution. It encourages expressing our needs and feelings without blame or criticism, and listening to others with empathy. When conflicts arise, it is crucial to address the issue directly but respectfully. Using "I" statements instead of accusatory language can help express our emotions without triggering defensiveness in the other person. By embracing NVC principles, we create a safe space for honest conversations, mutual understanding, and collaborative problem-solving. For example, the following statements may put the listener on their defenses, lead them to put up a strong guard, and will not allow them to hear the important message - "You are really making me mad." "I feel like you are being annoying" "I can not stand when you do that". Deceptively, two of those statements sound like "I" statements. Using an "I" statement much use "I feel" followed by an emotion. Emotions are typically one word only. By using statements such as the following you will be able to take accountability for your own emotions, explicitly describe the problem, and ask for what you need for afterwards. "I feel really angry when you come home late and do not call me first. Can you please let me know ahead of time if you realize you will be late?", "When you yell I feel overwhelmed and scared. I need you to speak calmly to me when we have problems." 3. Setting Boundaries: Honoring Your Needs and Values Healthy relationships require setting and respecting boundaries. Boundaries define our personal limits and establish expectations within a relationship. To build healthier connections, it is essential to identify and communicate our boundaries clearly. This includes expressing our comfort levels, values, and needs to others. Remember, boundaries are not not being mean or controlling; they promote self-care, self-respect, and respect for others. Openly discussing boundaries fosters trust, prevents misunderstandings, and creates an environment of mutual respect. Having healthy boundaries shows others what you are comfortable with and will allow as well as what is not ok with you. Boundaries can evolve and change throughout our lives as we learn and grow. It is ok to be ok with something one day, but later decide you no longer want to allow that thing later. You are always free to change your mind. 4. Empathy and Validation: Cultivating Emotional Connection Empathy and validation are powerful tools in building emotional connections. When someone shares their feelings or experiences, it's essential to respond with empathy rather than judgment or dismissiveness. Validate their emotions by acknowledging and affirming their experiences. Showing empathy doesn't mean we have to agree with everything; it means we genuinely care and are willing to understand their perspective. Cultivating emotional connection through empathy and validation strengthens bonds, builds trust, and creates a supportive environment where individuals feel valued and understood. Responding with empathy means showing up and being present. Responding with empathy does not mean problem solving. If someone comes to you with a problem, and you are unsure of how to respond ask this simple question: "Do you need me to listen or do you need help problem solving." At times people are already busy formulating solutions that you miss out on what the person is saying. Sit, listen, affirm, then act. Empathy does not mean making someone feel better. It can be as simple as "Man, that sounds rough.", "Ugh that feels like a lot", "I can see that feels like a lot right now." 5. Cultivating Effective Communication Habits To enhance communication skills in relationships, it's important to cultivate healthy habits. This includes scheduling regular check-ins with loved ones, practicing active listening in everyday conversations, and being mindful of our nonverbal cues. Additionally, being aware of our own communication style, such as assertiveness and tone, allows us to adapt and respond effectively. Regularly reflecting on our communication patterns and seeking feedback from trusted individuals can help identify areas for improvement and growth. Building healthy relationships and enhancing communication skills are lifelong journeys that require commitment and practice. By incorporating active listening, nonviolent communication, setting boundaries, empathy, and cultivating effective communication habits, we can foster deeper connections, resolve conflicts constructively, and create an environment of mutual understanding and support. Just like with learning all new things, give yourself and others time to practice and make mistakes. We have been communicating one way for quite some time. It may take more than a few tries to do something different. What is one area you feel you do well with communication? What is an area you would like to improve on regarding communication?

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