Jumpstart Communication After Deployment

Section One: Setting the Stage

Establishing respect is the foundation of effective communication.

Communication is most effective when it occurs in a positive, supportive atmosphere. In order to create and maintain this kind of atmosphere, you will need to ensure you’ve set the stage for your important conversations. The first step to setting the stage is establishing respect. Respect is defined as a positive feeling of admiration that you have for someone because of his/her personal qualities, achievements, or status. Respecting the person you are communicating with, including his/her views, enables you to accept the other person’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it. This foundation creates a safe environment where perspectives and feelings can be shared.

Effective communication requires active effort, good timing, and balance between participants.

If one person is doing all the talking or has the most control or influence in a conversation, things can become one-sided and ineffective. Your goal should be full involvement by all parties. You can work towards this by taking responsibility for the dialogue, committing your time and energy, and seeing the process through. Try to fully express your thoughts and feelings and encourage others to do the same. If you have a misunderstanding, work to resolve it by asking clarifying questions rather than getting angry. Effective communication also requires the right timing. When you want to have a serious conversation, bringing it up right before tip-off of a big game or just as your partner starts dinner is not good timing. Instead, let the person know there is something you would like to discuss and agree on a time and place that allows you to focus.

Honest communication is a key element of successful and effective communication.

Honesty leads to trust, and trust is developed from feeling safe. It’s possible that the truth can hurt, but remember honesty does not have to be brutal. If you respect the other person, you can speak the truth in a kind and caring manner. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but if you’re the one who has erred, own up to it and apologize rather than making excuses. Remember, honesty is the basis of all healthy relationships whether with a friend, a significant other, coworker, or any other person. Recognize how dishonesty plays itself out, and if you’re feeling the desire to lie instead of telling the truth, ask yourself why. Being honest with yourself about your own feelings can help you understand your motivations for what you communicate and what you shy away from.