When it comes to communicating clearly with others, there are five simple processes for you to keep in mind – enabling you to communicate effectively – and importantly, be understood. It also gives other people, who you are communicating with you, an opportunity to have different expectations of what communicating with you looks like – so you’re going to be able to fully understand what they say, or that they imply. Or, the things that they really mean – much more effectively than you may have done previously.

So principle number one is ‘honesty’.

We’re going to make sure that we are clear about how we think and feel. We’re going to be really conscious of communicating honestly. Here’s what I would like you to avoid; I would like you to avoid saying what you think other people want to hear from you. This on its own, is a big one, it’s a big pill to swallow. If there is mental health support for employees in your workplace, your employment counsellor will be able to help you with this.

In a workplace environment, communicating clearly is vital and key, in order to improve and maintain good Mental health in the workplace. In my previous experience, delivering training to staff across different office environments, the main thing I speak about is ‘honesty’. This really involves expressing truth in a situation, being really open and upfront, rather than tiptoeing around things that might perhaps be bothering you. You can use humour, you can soften things, you can even poke fun at yourself, but you’re going to be honest and straightforward about it. That way, there is less room for people to misunderstand, or misinterpret what you’re saying and how you’re feeling. That ties in nicely with my second point – you’re going be vulnerable. This level of honesty is going to bring about some vulnerability.

I was recently speaking with someone about mental health, and particularly the mental health of men. The reason why I want to bring this in at this junction is that in my observations, I have noticed that there are social generalisations that say women are very emotional creatures, and they’re much better at sharing their emotions. Therefore perceived to be better at raising children. I’m not going to say that’s awesome, but what I will say, is that men are emotional creatures too. As a lot of us know, the suicide rate amongst young men is extremely high, because they are in part, programmed by society to believe that they shouldn’t be talking about their emotions. What starts to happen then, is this belief is created – ‘if I talk about my emotions I am weak, I will feel vulnerable and I’ll feel like crap – so I don’t want to do it’.

But, bottling it up, holding it in, and not expressing your truth can be very damaging. Not allowing that vulnerability to be exposed can be far more harmful. Therefore, when we start using that honesty – and principle number one, it is going to open us up to feeling pretty damn vulnerable, but we are actually going to be proud of it. Relieved to embrace that vulnerability. We’re actually going to use it in a way like we’re showing off a little bit! We are going to have a little bit of swag in our step. We are brave. Brave in saying, you know what, I’m going to be really upfront – this is how this makes me feel or this is how I feel about you – and you might reject me for that. But we must be honest with ourselves if we’re going to be honest with others. We can embrace the sense of freedom in speaking our truth.

We’re going to expose those vulnerabilities because then it starts to become our strength. We feel unburdened, we feel lighter and we feel like we’ve ticked our honesty box. We can also then start to get that much clearer, crystal-like, beautiful transparent communication with other people. Which means that not only are we sort of exposing our humaneness, but we’re able to let more of that in from other people, and that’s a really lovely thing to be able to do. If you mentally and vocally meet all others on that honest, humane level, the communication flows and you don’t even have to think about it!

So principles one and two, honesty and vulnerability.

Principle number three, is we’re going be specific!

When I say ‘we need to be more specific about our communication’. I mean, ‘we need to give a lot of detail’. Which is annoying because it means that we might spend longer explaining things and going into details, which can be annoying for other people. But, it gives us less room for error, that’s the important thing here. We don’t want wiggle room to misunderstand and get things wrong – as much as maybe, we did before. We’re going to get really specific with saying what we want and giving our instructions. If you don’t understand completely what someone else is saying to you, get specific with them, like really drill down to get the details – because those details are probably going to save the day.

I’m not just talking about your intimate relationships with people. I’m talking about your communication with people at work too. For example, when somebody gives you an instruction, you assume you know what they mean and then you fudge it and get it wrong. One of you could get a kick in the ass for that – make sure it’s not you! Instead, go back to the person and get clarification at the point you are receiving the instruction or afterwards. Get really super clear on what exactly they were asking you to do. What it was that they were telling you – talk about the specifics. This method improves mental health in the workplace amongst colleagues – clear communication from others on tasks; understanding and being understood, therefore leading to getting things right more often at work makes us all feel positive and good about ourselves!

Principle number four is we’re going pause!

We’re going to take a moment to think about what people are telling us before we jump in and react to it. Particularly, if it has made us feel a certain kind of negative feeling. Being able to pause before you act or react, is a really important thing to do because it gives you time to get clarity. And, that clarity might just mean you to do things in a different way, perhaps even a more positive way, than how you might have done them if you had of jumped straight in!

It’s going to also give you time to calm down. If things were a little bit intense, then that’s going to cause you to react and act, in a different way too. If you were stressed out, for example, that pause is so important because you might, at that moment, get other bits of information that you’d forgotten about. It might cause you to get more information from other people, or it might cause you to re-evaluate how important this situation really is – so pausing is a good thing to do sometimes. There are situations when you just need to jump and crack on with it, however. We could say as an example if someone’s about to get hit by a bus, don’t pause before you tell them to get out the way – just tell them to get out of the way! But, if it is a situation where you can afford to take a moment to think before you respond, take it.

Our final principle – number five, is that we are going to make sure, that in our communication particularly if we have a problem, we’re going to talk to the person who we’ve got the problem with. Otherwise, if we go to other people with it, it can get messy. We all probably know this too well. It can change their opinion of that person perhaps, and then we end up with a new, weird dynamic. It can also cause us to get snippy and cause bad atmospheres, muddy dirty environments – and we don’t want that. We want to keep this clean and simple. If you’ve got something important to say to someone else, be it a good thing or a bad thing, tell them. There’s no point telling someone else, they’re not going to fix it for you. The only way to resolve an issue and move on from it is to address it with the person you’ve got the problem with. A bit like, if you find someone’s shirt attractive, you should say it directly to them. There’s no point telling everybody else, they’ll see you gossiping in the corner about them and think it was something negative, when in fact it wasn’t – it was a beautiful compliment – talk to the person.

Those 5 little principles can be applied in any given situation – and can improve the mental health of the employee and the employer, within an office environment.

By Gemma Bailey