I learned a process this summer that on the surface is very simple to implement. But, if you intentionally use it, you'll find that the execution is a lot harder than it sounds. It's called the Imago (Latin for image, or likeness/resemblance) process and is generally used for couples. I think it can be applied to just about any two parties wishing to communicate with one another.
1. Mirror what the other person is saying. An example is if a person tells you they need a drink of water, mirror what they are telling you (their specific need) verbally. Person A: "I need a drink of water." Person B: "You need a drink of water." This allows Person A to feel secure that Person B understands them and is clear on the expectation and the need.
2. Empathize with the other person. Example: Person B tells Person A: "I know what it's like to need water. I've been thirsty too."
That's it folks. Looks simple, right? Go ahead, try it and see how it works for you. I find that once I get to a place of really trying to understand the other person in the conversation I can generally empathize with them and ultimately communicate with them productively. Otherwise it could easily turn into a fight...and that's no good for anybody. I encourage each of you to simply listen, mirror and empathize with almost anyone you meet. After all, don't we all enjoy being listened to and understood?