By Monika Nygaard, 
Published in Nanaimo Harbour City Star, May/99

Effective communication skills are reflected in both your communication in words and your non-verbal communication. To have effective communication, being honest with yourself and others, and aware and in tune with your unconscious needs allows you to get your real message across and empowers you. NLP, based on some of Virginia Satir's work, provides tools for powerful communication skills.

Do you ever find yourself very much wanting to say no in a situation, when saying no would be the best thing for you, but you say yes instead?  Do you ever feel troubled about someone you care about, yet when you see them you talk about everything else but what youíre deeply feeling?  Maybe you find yourself lecturing or getting angry, the whole time knowing they arenít even listening.  Or maybe you find yourself feeling and thinking one thing and saying another.

Some of the reasons people donít say what they mean may be fear of rejection, of hurting otherís feelings, looking stupid, or believing you always have to be polite or that we canít make a difference.

However, in not saying it straight, we may betray a deep truth only to gain a speck of self-worth or a speck of correctness.  There is a price to pay, and as is often the case with drugs today, the price may be life itself.

Taking responsibility for our feelings and expressing them requires the willingness to take risks on our own behalf:  the risk of appearing foolish, perhaps, or of experiencing some painful recognition.  Some risks are positive:  risking experiencing the exhilaration that comes with validating our inner strength, power, and feeling connected to our own resources and to other people.

Often we are surprised to find people respect us more when we are truly honest with ourselves and with them.  To be trustable, I donít need to be perfect, I need to be real. 

Virginia Satir, world renowned family therapist, first generalized our reactions into five communication styles.  We all use all of them, or combinations of them at different times.

There are times when we placate:  doing things only to please others even if it harms us because we do not value ourselves enough.  We decide that we donít count.

At times we blame:  we may try to salvage our self-esteem by attacking others.  We may judge, ridicule or threaten, taking care of ourselves at the expense of others.  They donít count.

We may be super-reasonable:  out of desperation that our feelings donít count, we say the right words, show no feelings and just give the facts.  Our feelings and their feelings donít count, only the issue at hand counts.  We often get into this state when we feel the need for control.

We may be irrelevant:  distracting ourselves and others from what we really want to talk about or do or see happen.  We ignore what we want, what others want and the issue at hand.  Nothing counts.

Then there is the experience of being congruent:  when we level with ourselves and others, thereby valuing ourselves and at the same time respecting the other person and dealing with the issue at hand.  It all counts.

ďValuing ourselves means being aware and taking ownership of all our feelings, thoughts,Öresources and choices.  We say our real yes and our real no, without blaming or needing to please othersÖ  We can focus on being in charge of ourselves, on making a difference in our world by changing our own behaviours.Ē  (Virginia Satir).  Saying it straight makes this process possible.

Monika Nygaard is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Time Line Therapy® Master Trainer and Hypnotherapy Trainer. She can be reached at nlp4change@shaw.ca
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