Trouble Communicating? Consider the following….
When we talk about communicating in relationships what we are really talking about is how people express themselves to resolve conflict or distress in a relationship. We never seem to talk about “communication” when things are going well.
Under the duress of conflict and distress, people are more apt to lose themselves to emotion. They then speak in a way that minimizes their own contribution to the issues while maximizing the other’s. In return, the other in defensive mode responds similarly. As such, each is no longer really listening to how the other is hurt, but rather defending oneself from any pain or blame. No wonder these attempts at communication not only fail but escalate into bigger arguments.
To work your way out of these conundrums, the first and perhaps the most important bit of advice is to find your calm. By finding and bringing your calm to resolving disputes through communication, you are seeking to manage yourself rather than the other.
Once in control of yourself, then you can concentrate on the content of your message as well as the delivery.
In terms of the content of the message, it is generally recommended to discuss how you feel as opposed to what the other did wrong. For instance, rather than “You don’t listen to me”, consider, “I don’t always feel heard and that makes me sad.” By opening with how you feel, the other is no longer blamed or shamed for their behavior and hence in a better place to hear your concern.
As for delivery, tone is everything. If your tone is angry or sarcastic, or implies the other “has a problem”, the message is lost to the delivery. People wind up fighting about just that – the delivery, with phrases like, “You can’t talk that way to me,’ “lower your voice,” etc.
In the end, we want people to concentrate on the message, not the delivery, so focus on these three steps;
- Bring your calm;
- Convey how you feel, not what the other has done wrong;
- Deliver with reasonable tone.
Need help with any of that? Speak with a therapist.