Did you know that us humans are literally wired for social connection & engagement? Our nervous system & attachment systems are built around the necessity for community & connection. It's though our relationships that we first learn how to self regulate, self soothe, & develop a sense of trust & resiliency.
This doesn't end when we get older. Throughout our lives relationships are a huge part of how we grow & connect. When we feel seen, heard, understood & accepted we gain self esteem & capacity to get through the hard times.
Below I share 30 communication tips that can help you empower others to find their inner resilience, while also supporting your own.
Of course every person & every relationship is different. These tips are not exact tactics & may not work for each person or circumstance. Be patient with yourself & the person you’re talking to. Even if mistakes are made (as they always are in communication) your willingness to engage, to care, & offer support speaks volumes.
To make it a little more fun I’ve organized them in the acronym R. E. S. I. L. I. E. N. C. E.
A common challenges in inter-personal communication is confusion around responsibility. Individuals may either feel overly responsible for everything or take no responsibility for how their actions effect others. When you are able to communicate with a clear & realistic sense of responsibility this implicitly demonstrates these skills & creates space for other person to cultivate their sense of self ownership.
1. Speak from ‘I’ language: When we say things from an ‘I’ perspective we own what we are saying. (i.e. I feel, I think, I noticed, the way I see it).
2. Own your feelings, thoughts, interpretations & experiences: Own your experiences instead of projecting them.
3. Apologize when appropriate: This is so powerful! A genuine & specific apology demonstrates healthy responsibility & offers the other person respect & a place for repair.
4. Support from a place of personal agency: Support another person because you choose/want to be there. Supporting because you feel obligated or ‘should’ can build resentment & is often picked up by the other.
5. Separate behaviour & character: Offer points of separation between a person’s value & their behaviour/ situation. For example, if someone feels ashamed because they made a mistake you might gently remind them that they are human, that as human’s we make mistakes, & that they are still a good person.
Empathy is the willingness to understand & accept the other person’s experience without having to be responsible for it ~to meet another person where they are without judgement.
6. Offer unconditional positive regard: Recognize a person’s intrinsic value & respect their humanity. When you can offer respect, regardless of their behaviours or actions, it can help them recognize value in themselves.
7. Meet them where they are: To see the other person & accept them where they are validates their experience & demonstrates that they don’t have to ‘fake it’ for you. For example saying something like “I know it sucks right now” might allow someone to feel more heard & connected then saying “ahhh just let it go, it’s not a big deal”
8. Be okay not knowing: Often emotions & experiences are confusing. It’s not your job to ‘get’ it for the other person. Being present with someone & accepting them in those confusing spaces ~ without an agenda to ‘fix’ ~ can be a lifeline for someone who feels alone.
It’s not always possible to make someone feel safe. However there are several things we can do to increase the sense of safety for another.
9. Be mindful how you talk about others: The way to we talk about others is a pretty clear indication of how we treat others when they aren’t around. This can make or break the trust of someone we care about.
10. Confidentiality: When conversations move into more vulnerable spaces it can help others to know that it’s confidential. Asking someone if they’d like you to keep something confidential or telling them that you will (& of course keeping that promise) goes a long way in building a sense of trust & safety (pillars for cultivating resilience)
Maintaining integrity in how we handle ourselves builds trust & respect.
11. Address concerns in a specific way: Address specific concerns in clear way that leaves space for possibility & problems solving. When we tell someone we are worried about them, especially in a vague way, it can have the unintended effect of magnifying their own self doubts.
12. Own (or Lose) your agenda: If you have an agenda around talking to someone own it or lose it. Losing your agenda can allow for a more organic solutions to arise. On the other hand, if you have an agenda (i.e. wanting to help someone achieve a specific goal) tell them that is what you want to do & give them an opportunity to decide if they want it. Offering choice is a great way to help support someone’s resilience.
13. When possible address concerns or conflict privately: Points of conflict or concern can be uncomfortable for the best of us. Addressing these concerns privately allows a conversation without the the added pressure of being observed by others.
Listen to Understand
Listening to someone with the genuine desire to understand is deeply impactful.
14. Seek Clarification: When you don’t understand what someone is saying or find it confusing ask them to clarify. This can help both you & them get a better picture of what is being said.
15. Active Listening: Restate key themes or points that are being said & check in that you understand them correctly. This gives space for the other to clarify & demonstrates that you are actively engaged in understanding.
As mentioned in the intro, our social engagement is paramount for cultivating a sense of resilience. When individuals feel included & valued this boosts their self esteem & sense of worthiness.
16. Ask their opinion: When you ask someone their opinion about a person matter or for this help in addressing a problem you demonstrate that you value their input & can shift the dynamics of a your relationship.
17. Try invitational language: It can be helpful to invite an option to receive feedback or hear a story. This way instead of just giving someone advice they have the agency to decide if they want to hear it. For example, “ Can I share with you how I felt with a similar situation?”
18. Do a fun activity together! It’s easy to get caught in the processing side of conversations, especially when things are tough. Yet, play is highly therapeutic. By inviting the other person to join in a fun or adventurous activity could be just the thing to help them reset.
19. Ask about their interests: Engage the other person in conversations about the things they enjoy. Ask questions & get curious. This gives the individual a chance to share about the things that mater to them (great for cultivating resilience) & allows you to learn new things.
Establish healthy boundaries
Healthy boundaries create a structure of relationship that feels safe & respectful. Your ability to communicate these in a kind & clear way implicitly teaches others how to do this effectively.
20. Create a container: Whether a person seems to always need your support or feels very uncomfortable with receiving support a container can help create a boundary for your conversation. This could be as simple as saying “how about for five minutes you get to say everything you need to say”, or setting a boundary such as “I really want to support you, I have an hour this evening to talk, why don’t we chat then?”
21. Take care of your needs: Set time to check in with yourself & your needs. Attending to these is paramount for your well being & ability to support others without burning out.
22. Set boundaries clearly & respectfully: First clarify the boundary you need (i.e. Morning is my time for work), then communicate that boundary (i.e. It’s important for me that in the morning from 8am-12pm I am focused on work & won’t be able to take your calls). Explain why it’s important (i.e. So that I can get my work complete & attend to my business). If needed share consequences & alternatives (i.e. If you call me during this time I won’t be able to answer, & I’d love to connect later in the day if you like?”
Nurture a Positive Self View
When people are struggling with self doubt or insecurity it can feel debilitating. Gently offering a positive view of them & gently inviting them to do can help foster a positive self view.
23. Celebrate them: Celebrate the success of others.
24. Share the specific strengths you see: When you off specific skills & strength you see with examples it can help someone gain a more realistic perception of themselves, anchored in evidence. For example; I was really impressed when I saw how you handled _______. You were really clear & kind.
25. Invite space for self acknowledgement: Acknowledge when the person has a success & give it space. If this is a difficult space for them (a common challenge) ask. i.e. Would it be okay if we took a second to acknowledge how well you ________?”
26. Appreciate them: Show genuine appreciation for the gifts this person brings into your life.
Compassion & Celebration
Find compassion for those places of difficulty while celebrating those spaces of growth.
27. Demonstrate compassion for yourself, for the other, & for the situation: Compassion is multidimensional. This includes compassion for ourselves & our ability, for another & where they are, & for this situation itself. Not everything can be fixed, solved, or resolved…hold these spaces in compassion as well.
Situations & individuals have their own timing & rhythm. When we can appreciate the environment of a situation & work with it we can support the natural rhythm of growth.
28. Timing: When it comes to communication timing is everything. Offer advice too soon or address a conflict when someone is really stressed & it’s unlikely you will have the impact you desire. Pause, check in with yourself, & ask.. Is this the time to bring this up?
29. Location: Like timing the place we choose to have a conversation will directly influence its impact. Is this a place where you can be present to each other?
30. Presence: Ultimately the rhythm & timing of all situations is different. Presence offers more insight than any tip listed above. When you can stay present to the other person, the environment, & the situation you may find that what needs to be communicated comes naturally, dancing with the moment itself.
About the Author
Amy Thiessen is an international teacher, coach, & musician who focuses on helping individuals connect to their confidence, purpose, & self esteem through voice & communication. Offering a holistic approach Amy helps individuals uncover & overcome their unique blocks around voice & communication, connect to their self esteem & purpose, & ultimately express themselves in a way that is empowered & impactful.
1:1 coaching is the fastest way to overcome your blindspots & find deep & more impactful expression. Book a FREE consult to see how In Resonance Coaching can support your full expression today!.