Communication Styles and Recovery – Social Wellness Month

July is Social Wellness month, so we’d like to talk about communication – what  it is and why it’s important to your recovery.

The first year in recovery is a time of confusion, joy, fear, anger, sadness, happiness; a whole spectrum of emotions. Your loved ones may not know what to expect the first year, either. With the new transformation in the system, understanding and applying communication styles is vital for recovery success.

The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously. Before your treatment and recovery, there was most likely a “don’t trust, don’t talk, don’t feel” rule in your communication with others. These thoughts and ideas that you conveyed do not necessarily reflect your own and caused a communication breakdown, which stood in the way of your recovery goals. Getting your message across is paramount to progress.

In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively – whether in verbal, nonverbal or written form. By successfully getting your message across, your chances of sustained recovery improve.

Verbal vs. Nonverbal

Verbal and nonverbal communication can differ in various ways. Nonverbal communication is more immediate, while verbal communication is not restricted to the immediate (like speaking of the future).

Approximately 10% of what is said actually makes its way into a person’s long-term memory bank. With nonverbal communication, we’re in the presence of someone else, constantly sending signals about our attitudes, feelings and personalities. Thus, nonverbal communication is focused on the present. Verbal communication is primarily perceived as intentional or manipulated while nonverbal communication is often seen as unintentional and “truthful.”

Here are some quick tips and facts to help you improve your communication with those around you:

  1. Seek to understand, then to be understood
  2. Event + Reaction = Outcome. You cannot control the event, but you can control the outcome based on how you react or respond.
  3. Avoid absolutes such as “you always…” and “you never…” It puts people on the defensive. Try wording it as, “When you do X, it makes me feel Y.”
  4. Listen more. Listening is the number one form of communication.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.