Christian Counseling in Spokane, Washington
Counseling for Individuals, Couples and Families

(vine graphic) Interpersonal Relations Skills (vine graphic)

Communication is not magic but a learned set of skills. As a magician, though, if you pulled a rabbit from your hat and it was not the one you wanted, you would try another. These skills are similar; if you do not succeed, use another.

Speak the Sweetest Word

People love to hear this word. It can be used to get their attention, build rapport, overcome resistance or be used to punish. Used car salesmen use it too much. Your family hears it too rarely.

What is the sweetest word you ever heard?

Your name! Call your friends by name.


The principle of immediacy means that you remove blocks to communication; a frightened person or a worried family may not be able to listen to you. Comfort them first.

Ask a Reporter's 6 Best Friends

These are open-ended questions which help:

  1. When
  2. Where
  3. What
  4. Who
  5. Why
  6. How


Relating with your friends and colleagues is not an end in itself but rather a means to be used for the outcomes you desire. For example, lifting is not a goal but a way to get a disabled patient out of bed. Similarly, listening and talking effectively gives you a way to demonstrate care. The goal of communicating is to transfer meaning.


This principle reminds you that, to be understood, you need to make verbal and nonverbal messages match. Actions do speak louder than words! Nonverbal cues are more ambiguous and can sabotage you.

Watch your facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures, voice tones, distance from people, body position and posture, and your clothes.

Speak to Their Learning Style

Everyone has a preferred learning style: visual, auditory or kinesthetic (touch). Match the other person's style to be more effective. Note verbs:

Keep in Touch with Your Senses
Picture this
Sounds like
Handle this
Keep in Touch with Your Senses

When you have a clue, then try to show, tell or demonstrate in a way best for the other person.