A second part to good communication is to be specific. I like going around a room and asking people what they would do if I asked them to clean up. If there are ten people in the class, I’ll probably get ten different answers. “I’d sweep the floor,” I’d pick up those papers” “I’d straighten the chairs,” and so on. However, if I ask them to wash the chalkboard, then everyone in the room has exactly the same idea regarding what I want. Wash the chalkboard has much better results than clean the room, because it’s specific. Here are some more examples of good communication.
Mike, when I see broken glass on the floor, I’m scared someone will get cut. I need you to get the broom and I will help you clean it up.
Billy, I’m upset when I see all the toys on the floor. I want you to put them in the toy box.
Kerry, I feel upset when I hear you yelling. I need to hear you talking quietly.
I want you to give your dog a bath because he is covered with mud.
Notice that these sentences do not include any blaming. They are specific about how the speaker feels and what he wants done. Here are some more examples. Some are correct “I messages” which contain feeling and specific description, while others are wrong. The reason they are right or wrong is explained after the sentence:
Sue, you make me upset when you make a mess
–— Wrong, the other person is NOT responsible for your feelings and make a mess is not specific.
You make me sad when you yell at me
–— wrong, other people don’t control your emotions.
Kerry, I feel sad when you act that way
– Half and half. Right because the speaker is taking responsibility for his feelings, but wrong because it’s not specific. What way was Kerry acting?
Kerry, I feel sad when you yell at me
– right, but see if you can take out the “you.”
Kerry, I feel sad when I get yelled at – YES, this is an excellent “I message.”
Are the following sentences good communication? Write yes or no. The first set is done for you:
I feel angry — Yes (this is correct because the speaker is taking responsibility for her own feelings)
You make me angry — No (this is wrong because others don’t control how you feel. You are allowing yourself to become angry).
I feel pissed off with my ex – Yes (even if this isn’t true for you, it’s good communication because the speaker is taking responsibility for his feelings)
My ex pisses me off – No (the speaker is blaming another person for her feelings, so it is poor communication.)