Communicate Your Needs and Goals (Part 1: Family and Friends)

26 11 2014

When embarking on a journey, especially one that requires many life changes, support from those around you is vital for success. How to evoke that support can be difficult however. Communicating your goals and needs is the first step, but again that can be challenging.

Effective communication helps us better understand a person or situation and enables others to understand us. Effective communication allows us to build trust and respect, and create environments where problem solving can flourish. But effective communication is about more than just exchanging information; it’s also about understanding the emotion behind the information.

As simple as communication seems, much of what we try to communicate to others—and what others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. This can cause conflict and frustration in both personal and professional relationships. By learning these effective communication skills, you can better connect with your spouse, kids, friends, and coworkers.

Here are some ways you can make communication with your support network more effective, and get the help you need to achieve your goals:

   1.  Have a plan   

When it comes to your weight management goals, and the needs you have in order to reach those goals, it is important for those around you every day to understand what you are trying to achieve. Making your goals clear can help get everyone on the same page.

  1. Let your needs be known

There is a difference between being needy and letting other know what you need. For example, if your significant other consistently buys Oreos and chocolate is your weakness.   You are trying to reduce sugar and sweets, but does he/she know that? Rather than getting upset that the cookies are there tempting you, discuss the fact that it is difficult to say no, which may help your cause. Don’t assume your needs are obvious, make them clearly known.

  1. Make the time to talk

If you try to engage in a deep and meaningful conversation while rushing around or doing 10 other things, it is difficult for the interaction to be productive. Set aside time where talking is the only thing on the to-do list. It will result in less confusion, reduce the risk of misunderstanding, and make it more likely for the person on the receiving end to genuinely listen.

  1. Manage your emotions and stress in the moment

When stress, anger, or anxiety become constant and overwhelming, it can hamper effective communication by disrupting your capacity to think clearly and creatively, and act appropriately. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior. Try to recognize emotional and physiological stress in the moment and stay in control. Allow humor to lighten the mood or go back to your plan (perhaps you even prepared with notes?) to keep the conversation productive.

Coming soon:  How To Talk to your Personal Trainer and Registered Dietician

by Stephanie R. McWilliams, M.A., Health Behavior Counselor

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