You have quit using and drinking. You are changing your thinking, behavior, and lifestyle. You need to communicate to resolve old conflicts. You need to successfully communicate that you have changed, so the people who support you believe you have changed. Just as important, how you communicate and present yourself gives reinforcing messages to yourself that you have changed and are on a new road to a new life. Communication skills give you increased confidence to solve problems, improve relationships, and get your needs met without taking drugs and alcohol. The common benefits of developing communication skills are (Silberman, & Hansburg, 2000):
- When you understand someone else, you are appreciated. We like people who take the time to understand us.
- Being listened to helps us feel important. When you explain yourself clearly, you are understood. If you can make your point clearly the first time, there will be less confusion later. This decreases misunderstandings in your relationships and saves you heartache, energy and time.
- When you assert yourself, you are respected. People respect forthright individuals. When you are straight forward, other people admire your courage and personal strength. When you exchange feedback, you are enlightened. When you seek feedback, you discover the impact of your behavior on others. When you give feedback to others, you learn whether your views are on target or not. In the exchange, your relationships with others become more meaningful.
- When you influence others positively, you are valued. Lots of people give advice, but people only welcome and value your advice if you give it in a constructive manner and you are sincere and helpful.
- When you resolve conflict effectively, you are trusted. If you are kind to people and hard on problems, you won’t hurt feelings and make enemies. Others will be inspired by you.
- When you collaborate with teammates, you are prized. People with good team skills are the employees and clients who are wanted.
- When you change, your relationships are renewed. The change in your behavior is often the catalyst for change in the other person’s behavior. You create an opportunity for problem relationships to be mended.
Make your communication goals based on what is important to you. Your communication goals can be: understanding people, expressing yourself more clearly, asserting your needs, exchanging feedback, influencing others, resolving conflict, becoming a team player, or changing your own communication style (Silberman, & Hansburg, 2000). Whichever communication goals you choose, there are courses, books, and people who can help you to learn and practice those skills. A good place to start is the comprehensive and positive approach presented in “PeopleSmart Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence,” by Mel Silberman and Freda Hansburg.