To be a good soldier, there are tools you require. One of these tools is good communication.  Everyone may feel like they are effective communicators, but very few will have all the skills they require. If you are an effective communicator, people will be naturally drawn to you, they’ll enjoy being around you, and you will feel more fulfilled in your interpersonal relationships, both with your loved ones, friends, superiors, and subordinates. If you are not an effective communicator, people will find you boring and tedious to be around. They will avoid contact with you, because they feel that you really don’t care about whom they really are or what they have to say. Therefore, preventing any productive relationships you might desire or need to have.

Before you can improve any communications, it is important to have a general background on how people communicate.

[toggle title=”General Behaviors”]

Men prefer to communicate sitting side by side (like a sporting event)

Women prefer to communicate face to face

Men talk about “facts” or themselves

Women talk more abstractly and certainly of others (good or bad)

Men are uncomfortable about expressing their feelings or even saying the “L” word

Women easily express their feelings and take great risks in doing so

Men seem to express the extremes of their emotions, aloof/comical or jealousy/anger

Women seem to express a broad range of emotions and are better at its appropriateness[/toggle]


[toggle title=”Techniques for Assertive Communictaion”]

Acknowledgement:Regardless of whether or not you agree with the criticism, acknowledge it. Don’t offer excuses or apologies for your behavior (except when appropriate – e.g. you accidentally step on someone’s foot).

Clouding:When someone gives you nonconstructive, manipulative, or harsh criticism you can use clouding to respond and diffuse the situation. Involves 3 parts:

1: Agree in Part. Find some piece of what they are saying that you can acknowledge as true. If the person says you are always late, you can acknowledge that you are sometimes late, or you are late that particular day.

2: Agree in Probability: Find something the critic is saying that you can probably agree to. “You are probably right that I am often late.”

3: Agree in Principal: Agree with the critic in principal. “You are right, if everyone were late like this it would be a real problem for the unit.”


Probing:Try to determine the critic’s motives for what they are saying? Maybe they don’t know how to communicate with you. If you can clarify the nature of the problem you can work to diffuse the situation. “Tell me more about how I have disappointed you.”


Shift from specific problem to acknowledging the other person’s feelings: If you are having a discussion with someone and you or the other person become angry or frustrated, acknowledge those feelings. Shift from focusing on the problem to focusing on the feelings: E.g. “It seems as if you are really angry with me.” Or “I’m starting to get frustrated and that is making it hard for me to talk about this as calmly as I would like.”


Time Out:If you reach a sticking point in a discussion, you may need to postpone it until a later time. If you find yourself becoming too passive or too aggressive, take a time out. Use the time out to think about how you want to respond to the situation. “I need to take a break from this and cool off for a bit. Can we talk about this after dinner?”

Slowing Down:Don’t feel you have to respond immediately to every situation. You don’t have to produce an instant answer. Delay for a moment to allow yourself to determine: what the speaker has said, think about what has been said, avoid saying things you may regret later, and determine what you want to say. “Wait a minute, I want to give an honest answer.” “This is too important to rush through, let’s slow down.”


Assertive Position Statement:Express your position clearly and fully. Includes four elements:

1: Your objective perspective of the situation.

2: Your feelings (not opinions).

 3: Your wants.

4: A reason to motivate the other person to cooperate.

 “ We have had Italian the last 4 times we have gone out (1). I’m a little tired of Italian (2) and would like to try something else. I’d really enjoy going for Mexican food (3). Garcias has great margaritas. I will drive so you can have one (4).”

Assertive Listening:Focus your attention on what the other person is saying so that you can accurately hear what they are saying and understand their perspective. Become aware of your feelings, and ask the other person for clarification if there is something you don’t understand.

Workable Compromise:You may not be able to arrive at a solution that totally satisfies you and the other person. Look for a compromise that you can both live with. Suggestions: “Your way this time, my way next time.” “Part of what you want, part of what I want.”  Make a list of all possible solutions, cross off solutions you both agree don’t work, decide on a compromise that you can both live with, agree to evaluate the decision after a specific length of time.



Hearing and Listening are two very different acts.

Before you can even begin to make your point, you may first have to prepare others to listen. This is especially true when others are angry, talkative, or controlling. Often, it is necessary to listen first! Show you understand by rephrasing others’ thoughts, recognizing their feelings, and validating factors that contribute to those feelings. Withhold your own ideas until others become curious about where you stand. Then you can help them focus their attention on you:

•  Ask suggestive questions before making your point: “Do you want to know my concerns, what I want, if I agree? Are you sure?” This helps others switch gears and put on their listening hats.

•  Keep your points brief and frequently ask for a rephrase: “Am I making any sense? What does it sound like I’m saying? You’ve almost got it. Do you want to know the part that’s missing?”

•  Help others understand your feelings by asking: “I’m not sure what I’m feeling. Do you know?” “Can you help me understand why I might feel that way?”

Not only will the above questions encourage others to focus on you, they will help you look at yourself. Intently listening to others can clarify any differences between you and make communication more efficient and effective.

[toggle title=”Blocks to Listening”]

Comparing: Comparing yourself to your listening makes it hard to really listen because your trying to assess whose smarter, more competent, more emotionally healthy, some people focus on who’s suffered more. “Who’s more of a victim.” You can’t take much in because you’re too busy measuring up to the other person.


Mind-Reading:  When mind reading, the listener doesn’t pay much attention to what the speaker is saying, in fact, he distrust it. This is a dangerous mistake to make, it will only cause anger and frustration to the speaker and you. If you are a mind reader, you probably make assumptions about what people think of you. “How would you know, you’re not them!” So unless they tell you what their opinions are, you CANNOT possibly know what their thinking. This is also a tactic for control. It will get you nowhere.


Rehearsing: People are notorious for doing this. They already planned what they are going to say before the conversation beings. They listen enough to appear interested and to continue the flow of conversation, but they really don’t hear what people have to say.


Filtering:  If you are a filterer, you are listening to some things and not to others. People listen enough to get the gist of the conversation, see if the person is happy or unhappy, if they’re happy, the listeners mind starts to wander on to other things.


Judging: People who judge put negative labels on people, which is an enormous power. Once you’ve labeled that person, you cease to listen to them. A basic rule to listening is that judgments should be made only after the conversation is complete and you’ve had time to hear everything and evaluate the context of the message. 


Dreaming: You’re already only half-listening. Someone say’s something that triggers a chain of memories and private associations. One thing leads to another, and then another, and minutes after you’ve left for la-la land, you return to the end of the conversation with them saying thank you for listening, I know you’d understand.


Identifying:  Almost everything they say, you relate to what they’re saying by some experience you’ve had pertaining to a similar circumstance. You’re too busy trying to focus on telling your experience that you don’t even listen to theirs.


Advising: You are the great almighty problem solver!!!! You don’t even listen to more than the first few lines before your brain is working on solutions. Please remember that most people are competent in making their own solutions to problems. People go to other people to feel like someone cares. If they want help solving a problem, they’ll ask you, “CAN YOU HELP ME WITH THIS PROBLEM!!!”


Sparring: This block has you constantly arguing and debating with people. The other party never feels heard because you’re so quick to disagree. Most of the conversation, you’re just focusing on finding things to disagree with.  The way around this is to reflect back on what you heard and try to find something you agree with. One sub-type of sparring is “put-downs”. People will use this technique to dismiss the other person’s point of view. The other is “discounting” yourself. In lemans terms, you can’t take a compliment.


Being Right: Being right, people will go to any lengths to avoid being wrong. This includes twisting the facts, making excuses or accusations, calling up past sins. You can’t take criticism and the majority of the time will not see the other persons view points. In your mind, they’ve been discounted. Please remember that if someone feels rejected or has a problem with something, you need to understand that they are entitled to that feeling. In fact, if you had an open mind and put yourself in their shoes, you might actually see that they have a point. Example: You claim to be so busy you can’t help with the workload, so someone else is getting the majority of the work. That person brings it up to you, and in your mind, you can’t see their point of view because 1.) That would be a form of criticism. 2.) That would be a form of correction on your behavior. 3.) Maybe, just maybe that would prove that you were making a, holy cow, mistake!!! This can’t be because you’re always right!


Derailing: You change the subject if you’re not comfortable with it. You crack jokes to “lighten the tension.” You do this to avoid the discomfort or anxiety of really listening to someone.


Placating: Right….Right…..Absolutely….I know….Of course you are…. Incredible….Yes!….Really??? You’re being nice. You want people to like you. You’re maybe half listening just enough to get what the context of the conversation is, but you’re not really listening to what is being said.




In couples therapy, teaching gender differences in communication is a critical aspect in recovery.  Appreciating how your partner communicates because of cultural/societal expectations of genders not only enhances your relationship with your partner, it helps in all interpersonal communications.


[toggle title=”Using I instead of You”]

Try to always own your thoughts or feelings by using “I” in communications. For example:

Wrong: You always make me mad when you don’t call on time.

Right: I get mad when I don’t get your call on time.

Wrong: You seem to have a way ignoring me.

Right: I think you are ignoring me.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Using Ours instead of Yours/Mine/My”]

Try to always emphasize the partnership by using our(s) instead of your(s)/mine/my:

Wrong: Your son skipped school today.

Right: Our son skipped school today.

Wrong: That money was supposed to be for my vacation.

Right: That money was supposed to be for our vacation together.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Phone calls”]They tend to be big sources of stress in of itself. Usually the stresses of being separated are expressed first with each partner telling the other all about their problems. And then when they see the time running out, they miss the chance to express the more important things like missing or loving the other.

Phone call tip:

Agree on an “agenda” whereas business is conducted in a set time and the important things like sharing feelings is kept in focus. Another idea is to alternate the phone calls to accommodate business and pleasure.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Letters”]People tend to equate the amount of mail they get with how much they are loved. Partners should be realistic about the mail. Deployment areas are notorious for lousy mail service, especially early in the operations. Partners should also agree on the writing schedule and when to expect mail, or simply understand the writing habits of the other. Love letters tend to avalanche at the beginning and then gradually taper off to more realistic frequencies.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Rumors”]Be suspect of the rumors you hear back home or down range. Consider the source of the rumor and don’t act on it until you have discussed it with your partner in an ideal setting.[/toggle]