Many of the conflicts and misunderstandings that occur between individuals and groups could be eliminated if all of us learned good communications skills. These skills include being present during each interaction, staying in the here-and-now and not getting lost in our own heads by over-analyzing what we or the other person is saying and why they are saying it. It includes respecting how the other person is thinking and what they are saying whether we agree or not. Good communication skills help us to avoid conflict, solve problems, fulfill our needs and have healthy relationships in all areas of our lives
Your thoughts determine how you feel, what you do, how you relate to others and how you perceive all your experiences. Most of these thoughts are habitual and strengthened by repeated patterns of thinking. This continuous inner dialogue is called your "self-talk".

Our self-talk contributes greatly to determining how effective or clear your communication will be. It creates filters that impact how you communicate and how the other person hears and interprets what you say. Your self-talk can also interfere with you listening effectively. You can prejudge or make assumptions about what the other person is going to say and when you start doing this you stop listening to them.
Both people involved in an interaction have filters that intercept the messages that are flowing between them. The messages pass through these filters, which have been created from each person’s past experiences and beliefs and maintained by their self-talk. The messages are interpreted by each individual based on his or her filters.

In other words, we hear what we want to hear. We hear what we expect to hear. What the other person hears is not always what came out of our mouth. What came out of our mouth is not always what we were thinking in our head before we spoke.

Effective communication is a 2-way process and it involves speaking and listening. Self-talk can interfere with you being a good listener, because you cannot listen to two people at one time. You cannot listen to yourself and also to the other person. If you are busy in your head with your negative self-talk, you will not have the energy or concentration available to listen to what the other person is saying. Your self-talk could take the form of judging what the other person is saying, berating yourself in response to what was just said, jumping to conclusions, getting defensive or rehearsing what you plan to say. If any of these are happening, you are no longer listening to the other person.

The bottom line is that you can’t be listening to the self-talk in your own head and to what the other person is saying at the same time. Similarly, you can’t be speaking to someone else and talking to yourself in your head at the same time.

In addition to getting out of your own head, you also need to stay out of the other person’s head and not try to figure out what they are feeling, thinking, planning to say, not saying, or really mean by what they are saying.

The only way that you can know what is truly happening for the other person is to ask them and allow them the opportunity to clarify it for you.
When you realize that your inner self-talk is interfering with your external conversations, take a deep breath and refocus your energy on the other person. Apologize and let them know that you missed what they just said. Ask them to please repeat it.

And try not to automatically take personally anything the other person is saying. Many times it has nothing to do with you and is just their opinion. Even if they are criticizing you, that is just their opinion. It does not mean that it is the only reality. You don’t have to agree with them or take it on. They have the right to think it and you have the right to think differently.

So when you are communicating with someone else show respect to both yourself and to them and participate fully in the conversation. Pay attention to the interaction and stay focused. Quiet your self-talk and your interactions will be more honest and genuine.

Get your own copy of Barb’s newest book, “If I Could Just Get Out My Own Head: A No-Nonsense Guide to Communicating Effectively.” Discover no-nonsense and practical tips and techniques for quieting your self-talk and improving communication in all areas of your life. Purchase Barb’s book today and receive 13 free bonus gifts valued at over $700.

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Small is a best-selling author of three self-help books entitled: “What About Me, What Do I Want? Becoming Assertive”, “Blah, blah, blah… Changing Your Negative Self-Talk” and “If I Could Just Get Out of My Own Head: A No-Nonsense Guide to Communicating Effectively”. Using humour and real life examples from both her personal and professional lives, Barbara focuses on practical, no-nonsense skills and techniques that are applicable to anyone in any situation.

Barbara is a communication, assertiveness and self-talk expert on