Over the last few weeks we have been working on discussing turning negatives into positives.

We’ve talked a little bit about negative feelings, we’ve talked about examining our pasts and looking forward, and we talked about making things better for ourselves by looking into ourselves and turning negatives into positives.

Today we’re going to talk about open communication

This is something that is difficult for a lot of us. It is something that, if it is lacking, can kill relationships, hurt business opportunities,  and cause damage in dozens of other ways.

 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

-George Bernard Shaw

What exactly is open communication?

Open communication is a style of communication where all parties are able to express ideas to one another, such as in a conversation or debate without feeling attacked 

Open communication takes practice

For me, I used to have massive blow-ups where I would come at my partner with a list of everything that had ever happened. I would tell him everything that I was upset about that had festered through the previous week or so.

Imagine this scenario as an example:

I would approach my partner because of a financial situation that occurred. 

However, instead of focusing on the issue at hand, I would also bring up issues with the dogs, the dishwasher, the trash, etc. 

For four or five years of our relationship, this is how every argument would go. Instead of resolving the problem at hand, my approach would create a completely different, more complicated, issue that would last for days. 

In addition to this, we were also creating levels of insecurities and fear because my partner felt like he was being attacked had no idea what was going on. 

As I grew in my own journey of personal growth, I learned that these issues were because of a lack of communication on my part. I learned that I was not communicating openly or fairly – and if I wanted to improve our relationship, I had to improve how I communicated – which is what I did. 

So do you want to learn how to improve you communication and begin communicating using an open communication style? If so, check out these tips below!

1. Focus on the problem

When you enter in a discussion or debate, focus on the problem at hand. Talk about that problem and only that problem. Resist the urge to bring up additional problems or challenges. While you should be able to discuss other issues, you should do so at an appropriate time. Trust me when I say, the best approach is to focus on one challenge at a time. 

2. Focus on using “I-Statements”

When you are working through a challenge, be careful about what language you use. If your focus is on others – what they did wrong, how they can do better, etc. you will put them on the defensive. You want to avoid this as much as possible. Instead, focus on saying “I.” Bring up what you did, how you can help, how you feel, etc.  By focusing on you, your emotions, and your actions, it is far easier to avoid accidentally escalating a situation. 

3. Be Solution-Oriented and Team Oriented

As you work through challenging situations, remember, your goal is never to argue for argument’s sake. The goal should be to find a solution to avoid similar situations moving forward. In this respect, you and whoever you are working with are a team. Everyone should be working towards the same goal. If the goal is clearly defined, you will have an easier time working through challenging conversations and arriving to a solution. 

4. Pause and Take a Breather 

Sometimes when we are anticipating a challenging conversation or we are upset about something, we can overreact. We lose perspective and small challenges turn into unscalable mountains. Before you jump in to these situations, take a step back. Breathe, process, and think. Understand what it is that has you upset or what is creating the problem. Once you are calm, cool, and collected, move forward with solving those problems.