patterns of effective communication

In therapy,  clients often say that it’s hard to communicate their feelings. This is resounded by the commonly uttered phrases, my partner just doesn’t get me, even after 10 yrs of marriage, or my friend often misunderstands my intentions. However, this can be avoided through an awareness of patterns of communication.

About patterns of effective communication

Communication requires us to engage in a give-and-take. Each person brings their own unique personal world to the process of communication, which consists of their predispositions, experiences, mental models, various emotions, and behavioural choices. Within the context and the goal of communication, we try to  understand the other person through the lens of our personal, mental worlds. In return, we expect the other person to reciprocate the effort. Effective communication rides on ‘accurately understanding each other. This entire exercise requires intent, focus, skill, and effort.

Communication in ideal and fallible world

In an ideal world, this process of communication would happen smoothly, without any errors or misunderstandings. But in the fallible world that we live in, many factors tend to be outside of our control, such as, – how will the other person process what I convey, what emotional response will they have to what they process, will they think that I’m not well, what inferences will be drawn, what narrative will they construct, so on and so forth. 

What we can focus on?

When we focus on how the other person should receive and respond to what we convey, we are trying to control some or all of the above factors. Most people who have this kind of external focus tend to feel exasperated, angry, hurt, exhausted, and eventually hopeless in their social interactions. They report feeling  misunderstood in an unfavorable way.

Often,  communication is clouded by the predetermined script that we bring to it. We not only imagine and expect certain kinds of responses, but we become rigid about them. We rigidly hold that the script should be followed in order for the conversation to be fruitful. We attach various meanings to those responses. All in all, it becomes a fertile breeding ground for intense, unhealthy, unpleasant emotions. How can any communication be a satisfactory experience once it becomes clouded in this manner?

Skills to understand better

Let’s, for a moment, shift our focus and ask ourselves what skills I have to help others understand me better. Is my intent and content clear and not clouded by vague undertones? How can I express my preferences kindly, but firmly? Am I representing myself well enough? Addressing these questions could likely lead us to be more proactive in communicating more clearly and openly, thus increasing the chances of being ‘correctly understood by the other.


A mindful awareness of these patterns of communication, including our scripts, inferences, judgments, and emotions, coupled with some help in altering them, can go a long way in helping us towards delicately balanced and nuanced communication.

About Author – 

Swati Khanolkar – 

Director of In Vivo and  AEI Certified REBT Supervisor & Faculty

Swati Khanolkar, a trained clinical psychologist, is an accomplished REBT practitioner. She is an Associate Fellow and Supervisor of the Albert Ellis Institute, New York. She has taught psychology at both Graduate and Post graduate levels at SNDT University, Mumbai and affiliated colleges. She has conducted training programs for various corporates and has also been invited as a guest lecturer for several organizations and colleges in Mumbai. She is the Director of ‘In Vivo- The Mumbai Centre for REBT’ under which she conducts regular REBT training programs for students and professionals in psychology. She also conducts self-help group therapy and individual counselling, an initiative that has helped her clients make a remarkable positive difference in their lives.