Communicate to save your life (and your relationship)
Yes, communication is important
Yes, you already know that
Yet, you still find yourself having a hard time communicating when the stakes are high and when you have to say what you’re REALLY thinking and feeling.
Why do we suck at talking?
Short answer: it’s scary. Really exposing our thoughts and feelings requires being vulnerable to the judgement of other people. Allowing them in to see the dark corners of our mind and heart can be frightening because we don’t know what they will do with that information. When we become more confident in ourselves we will learn that communicating honestly can be a strength, not a weakness.
Step 1: Controlling the Fear
Often the fear of being judged is what keeps us from speaking up when it’s important. Whether it be sharing something with our sibling, spouse, parent, boss or whoever, we are usually worried about what they will think about us after. This fear is paralyzing.
The good news: more likely than not, being open about who you are and what you feel will draw you closer to the person you’re talking to and create the space for support and connection (the thing you actually want).
Plus, by you opening up, you give them the permission they need to open up as well.
Step 2: Tearing down the defenses
“I’ve tried everything and they just don’t listen no matter what”
Emotionally vulnerable conversations are usually where people are quick to go on the defense or attack. Why is that? Usually we say it’s because the other person has a condescending tone, aggressive body language, rude wording or they dominate the conversation.
If we were to be honest though, normally we go into emotional conversations ready to blame someone for our hurt and justify our actions (not taking accountability). We say ‘they made me feel like this’. But is that true? Did they MAKE you?
Sorry to burst the bubble but, no.
Getting rid of blame
Tell me if this sounds right:
There was some action that took place. When that happened you created a thought about what this action meant about you or what the person thought about you. From that thought, you created an emotion. Then, you began to experience that emotion and from that point on everything they did or said only added fuel to the fire you created.
When you understand this cycle you can begin to take control of your conversations, and your emotions overall. Being realistic that no one has ever ‘made’ you feel something is empowering. It means that in any moment you can change the thoughts and emotions that you’re experiencing.
Start to take notice of how you’re behaving in conversations and pay attention to what actions trigger you to think or feel certain ways. From there, ask yourself ‘why?’
Did this action trigger feelings of being insignificant, unloved or unimportant? Was that actually their intent or just my perception? Do I have all the facts or am I filling in the holes with my thoughts and ideas? Am I willing to share my feelings (without blaming them) so I can get a resolution?
Next time you’re in a conversation where your emotions are involved try making this small swap. Rather than saying “you made me feel like this __” try saying something like “I’m not blaming you for how I feel but I am sharing this with you so I can get better understanding and we/I can start the process moving forward.”
To learn more about understanding your partners communication style, how to use conflict to build connection and how to communicate to save your life and relationship schedule a FREE strategy session so we can start working together.