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We live in a world where communication reigns supreme. Every word we choose to express holds the capacity to heal or to harm, so it’s important we exercise this power with great care. It is critical to recognize the significance of our language and embrace a person-centered approach in our daily interactions. You may be asking yourself: what is a person-centered approach and how can I implement it? A person-centered approach to communication involves far more than just listening. Rather, it includes truly empathizing and aiming to understand others. Additionally, it entails cultivating a safe environment that prioritizes the well-being of others. Such an approach, too, involves adapting communication styles and adjusting the language used to promote collaboration and inquisitiveness.

 As a crisis counselor for the 988 Lifeline, I’ve come to understand the value of adopting a person-centered approach. This role has substantially impacted both my personal and professional life and has transformed the way in which I communicate with others. So, what does this look like? Above all, a person-centered approach holds space for feelings. When attempting to gently understand one’s feelings, consider utilizing the following exploratory and person-centered statements:

    “It sounds like you feel…”

  “It seems like…”

  “Help me understand more about…” 

  “If I’m hearing you correctly…”

  “I’m wondering…”

  “I’m curious to know more about…”

Each of these phrases fosters collaboration and enables you to gain a better understanding of someone’s feelings without resorting to interrogation-like tactics. Phrases like these also provide validation and ensure a level of comfort and understanding. 

Consider another scenario where you observe someone in distress, loudly expressing themselves in public. Initially, you might perceive this individual as angry. However, consider opting for a more person-centered approach. For example, reframe your observation by stating: “This person is presenting with substantial anger, I’m wondering why?” Such a reframe allows for a more empathetic and open-minded perspective.

Furthermore, imagine you are in a classroom and observe your fellow student consistently arriving late to school, disinterested in course content. You may initially perceive them as lazy or careless. Consider adopting a person-centered approach by reframing your perception: “It seems like they’re disengaged, I’m curious to know more about what may be affecting their attendance and focus?” Adopting a more sympathetic approach such as this aids in humanizing individuals and fostering a sense of respect and compassion.  

With these examples in mind, take a moment to reflect upon how you converse with others or perceive particular situations. Could you alter your language to adopt a more person-centered approach in your daily interactions? I encourage you all to comment your thoughts or provide helpful examples of your own!


  • kadashika

    Language is the bridge through which we communicate.

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  • retro bowl

    Thank you for sharing these valuable insights and encouraging others to reflect on their communication habits.

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  • fnaf

    Thank you for sharing these valuable insights and encouraging others to reflect on their communication habits.

    Posted on