Communication With Intention

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Two people holding hands while drinking lattes.Communication is a skill that many people need to learn. If this is you, you’re not alone. Many of us grew up in families that swept things under the rug. We might have had authoritarian or narcissistic parents that didn’t feel the need or have the skills to validate, acknowledge, or discover – all important skills in communication. To build strong relationships, we must learn to communicate in a way that doesn’t put the other person on the defensive or we may leave a conversation feeling defeated and unheard.

What are some intentional communication skills that can help build relationships?


This may seem obvious, but we can get so caught up in what we want to say, that we forget to listen, making it hard to have a productive conversation. At times, we have to listen to what is being felt rather than what is being said. With deep listening, we can try to understand better and acknowledge what the other person is feeling.

Acknowledge and validate.

This does not mean we have to agree, but it demonstrates that we are hearing and trying to understand.

Use “I” statements.

When “I” statements are used, the person we are talking to may feel less attacked. A formula that can be helpful is “I feel…I notice…I need.” An example of this might be, “I feel a little rejected when we don’t spend time together at the end of the day. I notice you might need some time of your own. I need at least a few nights a week where we spend quality time together. Of course, it doesn’t have to be as formulaic as that, but with practice you’ll find your own way of using “I” statement.

Eliminate absolutes.

“Always” and “Never” are keys to disaster in a conversation. I can pretty much guarantee that this isn’t the case. It lead down the road of feeling criticized and defensive which puts the breaks on getting anywhere in a conversation.

Express curiosity.

We can do this by asking questions and genuinely wanting to understand the other person. We might not be able to understand fully, but maybe we can gain a deeper understanding.


Some of us grew up in loud families where the more passionate someone was about something, the louder they got. Some of us get annoyed and may use sarcasm to deflect feelings. We need to be mindful that our tone tells a story about how we feel and how we respect the person we are talking to. If this is a hard one, you may need to take a pause and ground yourself before responding.

Be kind.

This goes for the way we talk to ourselves as well as others.

These are only a few tips to help improve communication. There are many more. The more you practice, the more competent you’ll be. This doesn’t mean you’ll get it right every time but keep trying and repairing when things don’t go the way you hoped. Eventually, communication may come more naturally.


If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas, please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.