How to Communicate Effectively One Thought at a Time


Last week we discussed what effective communication in relationships looks like. This week I want to share a tool you can start practicing when you are feeling stressed and emotionally overloaded. We have a desire to not live in chaos with our partner or loved ones. But how do we do that?


When we are stressed out or emotionally overwhelmed, we are more likely to misread other people, send confusing or negative non-verbal signals, and then have an unhealthy “knee-jerk” reaction or go into a crazy-making cycle. To prevent this, we need to take a moment to calm down and get into a good place so we can continue the conversation.

  1. Breathe, pause, and collect your thoughts.

  2. Ask for clarification before you begin.

  3. Pause and get in control of your thoughts.

  4. Discuss ONE point.

Be sure to focus on just one point at a time. Too many pieces at one time can make you feel like you are dodging arrows – one at a time is more like not ending up in the potholes in the road. After you are done discussing this one point, make sure to wrap up with a summary and STOP. You do not have to talk for the sake of noise.


For this exercise, I would like for you to try to get a handle on ONE thought you would like to communicate. Don’t try to solve your last ten years of chaos in one conversation. Be courageous and start a conversation from a place of clearly trying to understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. Limit your conversation to twenty minutes.

  • Create a space without judgment. Simply try this experience to hear the other person’s heart.

  • Stop after you have understood one point they are trying to make.

  • Clarify what you heard the other person saying, but do so without trying to solve any issue. You are just trying to understand what they are saying with any judgment attached to their statement.

  • After a pre-determined period of time, go ahead and reward yourself for persevering in this exercise.

  • Remember that you will get better at communicating and confronting your fears over time. Practice does improve the process.

Did this exercise help you to communicate more effectively? If so, how?


Some of my past clients have said:

  • Keeping to our twenty-minute time clock was hard to do…but we did not fight for the first time in a long time.

  • I have been putting off having a conversation I needed to have.

  • Can you help us so we don’t fight so much over dumb things?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this exercise. Please comment below with your feedback.

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