Communicating to Reduce Stress

Communicating to reduce stress is an important part of business, home and family life. Developing effective communication skills can help us avoid stressful misunderstandings, false assumptions and costly mistakes. Effective communication can also reduce unnecessary resentments and tension in our relationships.

Effective Communication Requires Dedication:

  • Make a commitment of time. Communication requires time, even in today’s hurried world.
  • Learn to listen. It takes patience to listen to another person instead of yourself, especially if the other person talks more slowly than you do, and has longer pauses between sentences and paragraphs than you do. Avoid the temptation to just jump in, and wait until the person is really finished speaking.
  • Be open minded - we might have to change some of our cherished opinions when we listen to the other person’s perspective.
  • Practice humility - we might discover we were mistaken.

Communicating to Reduce Stress
Is Worth the Effort

Taking the time to communicate effectively builds:

  • Trust,
  • Better understanding,
  • Cooperation,
  • Harmony,
  • More effective teamwork and problem solving.

Effective Communication Builds Relationships

A friend of mine separated from her husband, moved out, and then moved back. What made the difference? They went for professional counseling. They discovered some important facts:

  • Although they were living together, they hadn’t really talked with each other for years.
  • They hadn’t been sharing their hopes and dreams, only their complaints.
  • With the counselor’s help, they discovered they were both making assumptions about the other person which were incorrect.
Now, with their new commitment to communication, they can see things from a broader perspective and come to joint decisions with greater ease and harmony.

Here are more tips to reduce relationship stress and family stress.

Listening Is an Essential Communication Skill

A large part of communicating to reduce stress is listening.

Listening means being receptive.

  • Do nothing else while the other person is talking – just listen.
  • Be open to exploring new ideas and perspectives.
  • Give the other person your visual attention so that they can feel that you are listening. Make eye contact, while the other person is talking. This signals the other person that we acknowledge and respect them, even if we don’t agree with their ideas.
  • Good listening habits may require asking the other person a few questions. I talk more than my husband. So I sometimes have to consciously stop, ask him to tell me what he is thinking about and then be quiet. I may have to ask a few questions and then patiently wait for him to answer since he speaks more slowly than I do. But when I ask, and sit, and wait, after a while he does start to share, and I can learn an amazing number of important things that I would not have thought to consider if I hadn’t asked.
  • Try to maintain a body language which is at least neutral and accepting. Silently fuming and glaring at the other person who is speaking does not encourage communication, but an occasional nod, or smile of encouragement does.

Good Listeners Avoid Prejudging:

  • Avoid mentally rehearsing what you are going to say next after the other person is finished speaking. When we do that, we’re not really paying attention to the other person, or hearing what they’re saying.
  • Resist the temptation to interrupt the other person, or complete their sentences for them. If we wait to let the other person finish their sentence, we may often be pleasantly surprised.
  • Avoid assuming you already know what the speaker is going to say.

Listening Promotes Genuine Communication

When people feel listened to, they are more likely to:

  • Discuss their honest feelings
  • Bring problems to light
  • Offer worthwhile suggestions
  • Participate and be creative
  • Feel acknowledged
  • Be cooperative

Additional Tips for Communicating to
Reduce Stress:

  1. Be prepared to listen as well as speak.
  2. Occasionally restate what the other person’s idea is, in your own words to make sure you really understand what they are trying to say.
  3. Understand it may take more than one conversation to resolve your differences.
  4. Set aside a time when there will be fewer distractions.
  5. Turn off computer monitors, TVs, phones, pagers and other distractions.
  6. Reschedule if one or both of the people are over tired, or hungry.
  7. Remember to say some honest words of appreciation. Acknowledge the other person’s strengths and skills. Gratitude works wonders.
  8. Use language your audience or listener understands,
  9. Use specific examples to illustrate your key points, when possible
  10. Make an honest effort to understand the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
  11. Request clarification on points you don’t fully understand
  12. Be honest but respectful of the other person’s feelings. Being honest is not an invitation to be verbally harsh. Find ways to speak the truth with kindness and respect.
  13. Find a professional counselor, clergy or mediator you trust to help, if needed.
Communicating to reduce stress promotes better understanding, cooperation, and problem solving with the people you live with and work with. It usually results in less tension and more health, happiness and success for everyone!

Explore additional stress relief techniques, or,

Return to Gentle Stress Relief home page