During times of challenge, change, or transition, communication is key.

The higher the stakes, the more challenging it feels to effectively and intentionally communicate your message to others. Especially as it relates to expressing what “I believe to be true.” During times of change we are often pressed to communicate more quickly and effectively. Managing our emotions and being sensitive to others is paramount when we experience stress from transition or change. Do you become more domineering, intense, or make exaggerated overstatements? Or at the other end of the spectrum, do you become passive, detached, shut down, indifferent, or apathetic? Our communication style is often effected under stress because we tend to polarize and move to extremes. 

If you openly speaking your mind, consider these potential threats to communication:

  1. Be aware of making exaggerated statements. Create clarifying phrases to use such as ending a statement with, “While that may have sounded like an exaggeration, the point I want to get across is ____.”
  2. Make room for others to speak up especially if you have an intense communication style. Others may have a hard time speaking up and sharing their thoughts. Invite them into the conversation and ask for input. Ask, “What is your opinion on the matter” or “How do you feel about this?” Others will be more engaged if they are able to express their opinions.
  3. Communicate more than just what you believe. Embed your message with supporting facts. Writing down three points on a piece of paper may help you stick to key points without inundating others with what might seem like verbal dominance or emotional outbursts.

Oppositely, individuals who have difficulty speaking up may withhold their views from the group, or may give the impression of being passive-aggressive. These can both show up as a disengaged communicator when under stress.

These ideas can help individuals with these communication challenges to be more effective communicators:

  1. Speak up even though it may feel uncomfortable. While open conflict and debate may make you feel uneasy and possibly shut-down, remember that there is more harm in not speaking up and holding back your ideas. If you are having trouble speaking up, you can try to piggy-back off someone else’s comment as a way to transition into your own ideas.
  2. Use powerful language to appear more invested. To appear more enthusiastic about the topic at hand, use language that better taps into other’s emotions, such as “urgent, critical, immediate, imperative, vital, or revolutionary.” Even though you may not look emotionally engaged, these words will help you connect to the emotions of others.
  3. Don’t be intimidated by those with a louder volume. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you get your point across. Use powerful data or facts to get others to connect with your message. 

During times of challenge, change, or transition, communication is key. Staying engaged and showing empathy helps build critical bonds that foster open lines of communication. Awareness of our individual challenges to communication helps us proactively develop skills and habits necessary to overcome obstacles and strengthen relationships. 

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