Guest Author - Carissa Vaughn
Discovering the magic button for good communication would most certainly be a fabulous breakthrough for those of us who have a relationship of any significance with most anyone! Generally speaking, most of us are not the communicator’s of the century. We have arguments, get misunderstood, and of course – misunderstand the verbal touts of someone else. We’re not mind readers! How can you be heard effectively?
Here are a few starters.
First things first – make time for what is important to you instead of putting it off. Yes, I know this means that you have to coordinate this with someone else a lot of times but it can be worth it! Spur of the moment, heat of the moment type conversations often backfire. Give your (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, mom, etc) the chance to make time for you. What if they don’t make time for you? Then do it when you are able to be alone, face to face without a distraction, to give you the best chance to be heard.
Don’t assume the other person knows how you feel. Don’t assume they are going to know what you’re talking about when you start. Don’t assume they will understand WHY you feel how you do about something. Assuming sucks. It starts everything off with implications of one thing or another and ends up with both parties mad. Begin conversations stating up front what you are talking about, thinking about, stewing about – whatever! Lay a base amount of ‘ground’ so-to-speak so that you give the other party a chance to understand and absorb where you are coming from.
Don’t use YOU statements all the time. ‘YOU did this,’ ‘YOU always…’ Turning the focus of what you want to say onto yourself makes words more palatable. ‘I feel…,’ ‘I don’t understand why…’ It is less threatening, less provoking. The goal for being heard by someone else is more easily accomplished if they aren’t defensive, or put on the defensive from the start.
In any relationship it is a good thing to set limits between you. Why? Setting limits helps provide structure, it helps prevent burning bridges and hurting feelings (more), and it can give you a safe ‘out’ if needed. An important limit between my husband and I is no hanging up on the other person for any reason. It is disrespectful and a tool that people use to punish the other person. NOT acceptable. Of course then if a conversation gets heated you have to be willing to accept that the other person made need to get off the phone and allow them to if necessary. Other limits can be like a ‘time out’, giving you or them a period to cool off or think something over. Agree not to allow hurtful, deprecating statements that automatically make any talk lose/lose. Agree not to threaten to do one thing or another just because you’re mad. “I’ll get a divorce!” or “I won’t speak to you if…” etc. Expound on these things to fit your own situation.