Are good communication skills the foundation of psychological success?

By Saybrook University


The Importance of Communication in Psychology

In conversation, as in life, it turns out that the little things matter a lot.

The importance of communication in psychology is clear: How you talk can make or break you. In fact, there is an entire science devoted to improving face-to-face communication – and it suggests that flawed communication is a major source of relationship distress and demise.

In Is Your Communication Style Affecting Your Relationship for Better or for Worse?, Dr.Sherrie Bourg Carter suggests that conversational styles and patterns in relationships are a major source of clandestine stress. Dr. Bourg Carter contends that many relationships and communications involve parties who are essentially speaking “a different language” depending on their level of directness, assertiveness, and compassion.

Dr. Bourg Carter is among many psychologists who suggest the importance of effective face-to-face communication for relationships and interpersonal fulfillment. It’s long been suggested that communication depends on the on “skill sets” or “talk habits” in one’s conversational repertoire.

6 Tips For More Successful Communication

In The Talk Book: The Intimate Science of Communicating in Close Relationships, author Dr. Gerald Goodman explores the skill sets needed for improved communication, transformed relationships, and fulfilled interpersonal relations. Dr. Goodman purports that changing six talking habits will transform all facets of your life.

Here are some suggestions:

1)    Disclosures: Disclosure is the heart of good relationships and transforming communications. Disclosures breed greater intimacy when done properly. Facilitating proper disclosures in conversational relationships involves a gradual process of increasing the degree of risky disclosures over time, involving less restrictive control and more trust and vulnerability. Put simply – don’t say too much too soon.

2)    Reflections: Reflecting is lesser known of communication skill. It’s simple and fairly natural. It involves no pragmatism but simply extending an empathic ear and heart. It’s accomplished through reiterating the speaker’s essential feelings and thoughts back to them. It’s irreplaceable and effective.

3)    Interpretations: It’s what many of us do in conversations – too soon, too quick and too ineffective. When effective, they bring new meaning. When unsuccessful, they turn out to be insulting assumptions. Avoid conversational interpretations that “interpret” the very self-image or personhood of another. Instead, stick to proverbs or generalized sayings, they are the most innocent and safe of interpretations.

4)    Advisements: It says it all in the name. Easily overused and abused, advisements must be carefully woven into conversations – always respecting the self-determination of the “other” in the conversation. When used correctly, they are respectful suggestions that honor the autonomy of the other person.

5)    Questions: They are the basic building blocks of all conversations and relationships. They allow both people to “get to know” or keep up with each other. When using questions in relationships, check your motives. Make sure you are trying to gather information; and not covertly giving advice, interpreting, or disclosing things about yourself too soon.

6)    Silences: It’s by far the easiest talking tool, habit, and skill in communication – and by far the most underused. Also referred to as “conversational allowing,” silences pave the way, regulating the all-powerful thinking and feeling mechanisms through the pauses allowed in the listening and talking components of the conversation. In short, be more aware and allow for more silences in the conversations and relationships that make a difference:  you won’t be dissatisfied!

These short and easy tips give way to deeper, more successful and more fulfilling communication.

“When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on,” said humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers.

— Liz Schreiber