Cathy’s Top Tips for Communicating in The Real World


  • “I tried using the Communication Model with my friend … but she doesn’t know it, so it’s hopeless!” 
  • “My partner says ‘Don’t try any of that Haven stuff on me!’ ”
  • “I’m new at using the Communication Model. I never remember everything I’m supposed to do!”

This week I have heard all three of these from people. At some time in my life I have said each of them myself. And I am presently in relationship with someone who HATES jargon! So I am revisiting the “Don’t try that Haven stuff on me!” experience real-time!

The good news is I believe we can all benefit from using the Communication Model, and we don’t need to be perfect or do it all, every time. 

First of all, pause and figure out WHY you want to speak to this person. When you know this, everything else will be guided by this focus.This is a big help! Particularly if you get triggered or distracted and start to go off track. 

No special learning to do this.

Next step, ask them … and say why.  For example, “I’d like to talk to you about […], and the reason is because I want to […] (get clear, be closer, make this decision with your input, etc.)”

Basic … although it only stays basic if you keep it short! Too many words rarely help.

Then … use short sentences (Remember, people hear the first 16 seconds best!) and everyday words, no jargon!

The most profound learning I had with this was with my son, when he was about 11 years old. He was upset and frustrated. I started to speak to him and he retorted, “And don’t use that Haven stuff on me!” I stopped in my tracks. I had wanted to ask what he meant. I still wanted to know. I didn’t want to guess … and I hate not understanding. So I took the risk to ask again … and I didn’t use ANY of the jargon words. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So, I’m your mum…

He: Yeah, I know that!

Me: … and I sometimes don’t understand what you mean. 

He: (A knowing look in my direction…)

Me: … and right now I’m confused about something you said. Can I ask you about it?

He: Sure.

Me: Great. So I heard you say “……”. Does that mean you want to “……”?

He: No! That would be stupid! I want to “……!” 

Me: Oh! Got it … Is that because “……”?

He: No. It’s because “……” happened.

Me: Oh, thanks—that makes sense now. I feel better. 

He: OK.

I was absolutely following the Communication Model: sharing my why (context and intention), what I had heard (perception), the story I had made up (interpretation), checking it out with the other person, and also mentioning my feelings at the end. All in everyday language. He did not experience being “Haven-ed”!

Jumping to the present, recently with my partner I found myself struggling to follow a very long sentence, and not being clear about the meaning of one or two words. So I took a breath, got clear that I wanted to understand in order continue the conversation, and I spoke: “I’m not following clearly, so I want to chunk it down and make sure I understand.” – He nodded.

I then used a similar path to the conversation with my son, moving slowly so that I could tell the story of what had happened for me, and asking clear, simple questions about what I wanted to check and understand.

For me, no kidding, the most important part was keeping the ‘why’ in view. The reason I am asking is so I can understand. Period. Nothing to do with my judgment about correct use of a word, better phrasing, shorter sentences, or some other sneaky way to blame him for the discomfort I was feeling because I couldn’t follow him. If I focus on my why (intention), most of the ‘problems’ disappear. 

And, knowing why, slowing down, using shorter sentences and everyday language – none of these require using the communication model ‘perfectly.’ Also, the other person doesn’t need to know or use the model. The responsibility for a clean and clear communication is entirely up to you! Nice, hey?!

After this, what really helps is practice! 

So – don’t wait! Give it a try today … and everyday! Why not? What have you got to lose? 

Wishing you MUCH practice, lots of learning, and the gift of connection with people who matter,



Some context, personal sharing, and a recommendation…

I first learned the Communication Model 29 years ago. 

I use it every day. 

If I could only share one Haven model with people, no question it would be the Communication Model. 

I used it to discover myself and begin to use boundaries. I used it to be clear and kind in the ending of a marriage. I used it at work, with family, and in friendships. I used it as the backbone of the beautiful success of my second marriage, through the sorrows and joys of our remaining days together … right up to his final breath. I used it to reach out for support in my grief. I am using it to build a rich and rewarding new relationship, and move forward in a life filled with aliveness and loving.

It was so key to my second marriage (we met at The Haven!) that we designed a workshop all about communicating when it really matters. This has continued to develop and is now called: Dynamic Dialogue. If you want to accelerate your learning and ease with this model, practice many ways to use it, and take action when and where things really matter to you, this would be a great choice.

Dynamic Dialogue is coming up soon – February 7–10, 2019.



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