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Tips for reframing your thinking and communication style

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

By: Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

Reframing our thinking and communication style can be challenging because much of our thinking is automatic in nature and influenced by a lifetime of experiences. However, with some practice and trying these tips below, we can improve our own insight, perceptions and communication effectiveness for the better.

Say irrational thoughts out loud. Irrational thoughts can easily spiral and become out of control when we keep them to ourselves. Saying them out loud makes us hear how ridiculous or unrealistic they really sound. To take this to the next step, try writing out your irrational thought and reading it out loud. This gives you 2 steps to process what it is that you’re thinking and see how rational it really is.

Ask yourself: “Will this matter in a month or a year from now?” Time heals many wounds and it isn’t easy to remember that in the moment. Try to sit back and reflect on what this situation will mean to you in a month. Or do the reverse and reflect on something that was a big deal at this time last year, and does it still bother you to the same intensity, if at all, today?

Ask yourself: “What are you pretending not to know?” This can be a powerful question that brings a lot of insight to our behavior. Intentionally or not, we can deceive ourselves to avoid uncomfortable feelings, but when we take away our own deception, what is it that we’re not addressing?

Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?” Now, instead of having a problem, you have a way to improve yourself. Every challenge is also an opportunity to learn and possibly try a new approach. So, take advantage of the situation and use it as a test for the skills you may be trying to work on.

In the context of communication in relationships:

Replace “but” with “and”. This trick can soften your tone and help the person you’re communicating with be more receptive. “But” can sound defensive and may lead others to assume that we’re disagreeing with them. “And” helps others and yourself to feel heard.

During an argument, before expressing yourself, write out what you want to say and replace “you” with “I/me.”This will help you reflect on what you’re actually asking for and whether you’re communicating your need in the most effective manner. For example, “You’re not listening to me. You make me feel insecure because you don’t act like you care about me.” Might actually mean: “I’m not listening to me. I make myself feel insecure because I don’t act like I care about me.” This exercise may provide some insight into what you’re really trying to express to someone or not addressing with yourself, and then you can think of a more effective way to communicate your needs.


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