Communication Cheat Sheet

Listen Actively –Try to fully understand what the other person is thinking and feeling.  Ask questions to clarify.  Manage your own defensiveness; be aware of your body language.  Do not judge, accuse, or label the other person.

Summarize – Summarize what the other person has said.  Verify that you heard him or her correctly (Ex: “What I’m hearing you say is…”).  Be aware of adding your own words to their mouth.  Imagine that you are acting solely as a mirror to reflect that person’s words back to him or her.

Acknowledge – Acknowledge the basic FACTS of the situation.  Next, acknowledge and accept responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that support the other individual’s experience of the issue.  This may include accepting responsibility for anywhere from 0% to 100% of the issue. 

Respond – Respond with your own feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and requests.  Express yourself directly and respectfully.  “I feel…I think…I believe…My experience is…”  Do not preach or recommend behaviors (Ex: “You need to…You should be…”).  Make direct personal requests (“What I would like from you is…I need…”).

Decide – Based on the other person’s response, decide on the most appropriate next step: 1. Disengage.  Leave the situation. 2. Repeat the above cycle if progress appears possible. 3. Ask for support and assistance from appropriate sources.

Ernest Ellender, Ph.D., 2008, Nicholls State University