Communications are enhanced when you do not belittle, ridicule, devaluate or insult others. Obviously, you should never call people names such as stupid, lazy, or anything else that can be perceived as demeaning or invalidating.

Additionally, it is safe to say that a non-hostile or non-aggressive approach will be received more positively than communications that are perceived as threatening or demeaning. Communications are enhanced when one truly listens to others, with every fiber of your being.

That means you are not judging or attempting to control others by imposing your own values, goals, or priorities. But rather than you are attempting to put yourself in the other persons’ shoes, but truly attempting to understand where they are coming from.

One valuable approach is to repeat back what the person is telling you and ask if you have understood them correctly. If not, persist until they agree that you have correctly interpreted their points of view.


Another valuable approach, especially when the communications involve political opinions, is to identify whatever ideas or concepts that you share in common. What matters to both of you? What things can you agree on?

And, of course, you can agree to disagree, but being respectful of the opinions of others.

When others are aggressive or insensitive when interacting with you, be sensitive that it may not be about you, but rather a result of whatever frustrations or anxieties they are experiencing. They may be feeling stressed or anxious for a variety of reasons.

In this day and age of the coronavirus and economic uncertainty, it should not be a surprise to see a much higher level of discomfort and anxiety as the order of the day.

Remember that the journey of life is different for everyone and easier for some than others. In other words, be sensitive to whatever challenges others may be experiencing.

When dealing with others, remember that appropriate assertiveness implies that if you believe that you are being taken advantage of, the ideal approach is neither to be aggressive or passive but rather to present your point of view in a logical, persuasive, and non-threatening manner. Repetition, if needed, is appropriate, but the bottom line is to be persistent, but not threatening, sticking to the facts as you perceive them.

In summary, the bottom line in communicating with others is to be non-hostile or aggressive and to be truly understanding, non-judgmental, compassionate and loving.

Dan Rich is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at