Open and direct communications builds healthy relationships, whether at home or work. Face it. We’re not mind readers, so the exchange of information between family members, couples, work associates and others is essential on many levels. Yet it’s not as easy as it seems. Open and direct communications come with some risk. As a result, some people tend to keep quiet, retreat or go to extremes in trying to be diplomatic and tactful. Sometimes this approach can backfire.

On the other hand, there are others who have no filter when they communicate. Plain and simple, they can be jerks. They are in such a hurry to “spill the beans” that they don’t think of consequences. Once the words are uttered, they are out there in the universe and cannot be retracted.

Remember there is a live, feeling, thinking person at the other end of the communication.  Strive for compassion, empathy and clarity when communicating your needs, expectations, requests or other forms of information. Don’t assume the other person is aware of your thoughts about the subject matter at hand. Give the other person a chance to respond. Listen to the response without becoming defensive.

In the end, remember it takes courage to engage in open and direct communications, but it’s well worth the risk to be in integrity with yourself and others.