People need to have good listening and communication skills to have healthy relationships.  Moreover, it will be crucial for anyone in recovery.  But, many times people are set in their ways and have developed unhealthy habits when it comes to talking with family and friends.  For a person to improve these skills it will take hard work and practice. So, if you are open to changing the way you communicate with people it then half the battle is won because most people do not like change!  A recent article discusses how important it is to have a voice and to be able to express your thoughts to others and get through your daily struggles.

The first tip when speaking with someone is to not talk at the same time.  How many of us can relate to this? It is very simple, you cannot listen if you are talking.  Next it is important for you to put the other person at ease or make them feel comfortable when having a conversation.  So, look at the person, give appropriate body language so they know you are listening to them. Also, it is important to show the person that you are interested in what they are saying.  For instance, you should turn off the television or your phone.  This will ensure the other person that what they are saying is important.

“Nature gave man two ears but only one tongue, which is a gentle hint that he should listen more than he talks!” by Unknown

Another terrific way to demonstrate to a friend or loved one that you are listening is to show empathy.  In other words, try to put yourself in their shoes.  You can also rephrase what they are saying and this will show understanding on your part.  If you ask questions this will also show the person you are listening.  Next, allow the person to say what’s on their mind.  It is essential to give the person the time to express what their concerns are.  This is especially important for those in recovery because it is usually the case that we have violated a person’s trust at some point in the relationship.  Also, don’t get angry and fly off the handle when you hear something you do not like or agree with. This will ruin a conversation quickly!

The funny thing about speaking with people we know is that we have become so comfortable with them that we often have developed terrible habits.  But if you can give these tips a shot then you can break away from your normal routines.  By doing this you will be on a path to developing healthier relationships.  Try it and see the improvements!


Virginia Drug Treatment- Listening and Communication in Relationships
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