Effective Communications and Relationships

Effective Communication and Relationships

As humans, we are hardwired to live in relationships with others. Researchers have found that people who have positive relationships are healthier physically and mentally and feel satisfied with their lives overall. How we communicate is the foundation of building these important connections, whether it is to express our emotions, identify our needs, achieve our goals, or find meaning and purpose in life.

Here are six beneficial attributes of good communicators:

  • Authenticity: Being yourself, honest and genuine in your attempts to understand and converse with another.
  • Open-mindedness: Many times we walk into a conversation with the idea of passing on our ideas, or with assumptions about the other. Effective communication however requires curiosity, openness and a willingness to listen.
  • Empathy: To “feel with” someone. It is not sympathy for a person or taking on the other person’s pain, or even agreeing with it. It is simply recognizing universal human suffering, validating the person, and being there for the person as they explore ways to relieve it.
  • Clarity: Find ways to make the information you are presenting as clear and understandable as possible. This means meeting the person where they are at, using language they understand, and delivering it in a way that meets their needs.
  • Attentiveness: Being present, actively listening, and not letting your mind wander or be distracted.
  • Assertiveness: The ability to consider both our own and the other’s perspective. It involves both effective listening and the ability to express our truth clearly and confidently.

Improving our communication can help improve our relationships. But relationships can be hard and can be the source of much discomfort and unhappiness. It is important to seek positive people to spend our time with and to be able to develop meaningful connections that enhance our lives. Being able to recognize if a relationship is healthy or unhealthy and having the strategies to either strengthen the relationship or walk away is vital.

What a healthy relationship looks like:

  • You feel safe, heard, respected, and valued by the other person in the relationship
  • Both people view each other and treat each other as equals
  • The give is equal on both sides of the relationship
  • Time is spent voluntarily because the two individuals like or love each other and feel satisfied when they are together
  • There is trust and open communication
  • Boundaries are clear
  • The individuals feel supported by one another
  • Individuality and other relationships are maintained
  • There is compassion, kindness, and forgiveness
People who have positive relationships are healthier physically and mentally and feel satisfied with their lives overall.

Web Resources


Pre-recorded Webinars and Media

Boundaries in Balance

A free webinar presented by Lucette Wesley of the Canadian Mental Health Association.



The Assertiveness Workbook

Randy J. Paterson (2000)
Contains effective, cognitive behavioral techniques to help you become more assertive. Learn how to set and maintain personal boundaries without becoming inaccessible. Become more genuine and open in relationships without fearing attack. Defend yourself when you are criticized or asked to submit to unreasonable requests.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
This essential guide to setting and respecting boundaries is for anyone wanting to better understand themselves and others.

Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change

By: Bower (2004)
Outlines an effective assertiveness program to help people improve their self-esteem, articulate their opinions, and develop meaningful relationships. Exercises and examples throughout—including the celebrated DESC scripts (describe, express, specify, consequences)—allow readers to practice the program, adapt it to their own lives, and evaluate their progress.


By: Matthew McKay PhD, Patrick Fanning
This fully revised edition features an innovative application of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to self-esteem and utilizes updated cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you create positive change and thrive.

The Cure for Loneliness: How to Feel Connected and Escape Isolation

By: Dr. Bill Howatt
Through a compelling mix of real-life case studies, self-reflection exercises, and cognitive behavioral techniques, you’ll learn how to recognize your own self-limiting thoughts and behaviors, unlock your mental traps, and close the social connection gaps in all areas of your life, from the personal to the professional. You can have more meaningful social connections and see why you feel lonely may not be as important as what you learn to do with it.

The Five Love Languages

By: Gary Chapman
Different people with different personalities express love in different ways. In fact, there are five very specific languages of love: Words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. Learn about your own love language and others to cultivate deeper understanding and quality of relationships.

Emotional Intelligence

By: Daniel Goleman
Offers new insight into our "two minds"—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny. Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. 

Letting Go of Anger

Ronald T. Potter-Efron
This book examines the eleven most common styles of anger expression and helps you learn how to communicate your anger in healthy ways. 

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

by Melody Beattie
Contains dozens of real-life examples, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests to help you along the road to recovering your own life. For anyone struggling with a relationship involving substance use disorders or other compulsive behaviors, this program points the way to healing and the renewal of hope.

The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You

By: Karla McLaren
Through experiential exercises covering a full spectrum of feelings from anger, fear, and shame to jealousy, grief, joy, and more, you will discover how to work with your own and others’ emotions with fluency and expertise.


Where Should We Begin? (on relationships)

with Esther Perel
Listen to the incomparable therapist Esther Perel counsel real couples as they reveal the most intimate, personal, and complicated details of the conflicts that have brought them to her door.

Dan O’Connor’s Communication Skills Training

In this podcast, you'll learn the secrets master communicators use to always seem to have the right words at the right time.

Communication Junkie

with Steven Fuller

How Can I Say This...with Beth Buelow

Offers tips and advice for interpersonal communications challenges, such as difficult conversations, conflict, giving and receiving feedback, negotiating, and other situations where what you say and how you say it makes all the difference.