Improving personal relationships through communciation
I was having my hair cut this morning and chatting to the hairdresser about communication and how, when emotions are involved, the conversations we have aren't necessarily the ones we want to have.
We were talking about communicating with children and partners and I was explaining the following, which I believe, are the 2 main reasons we struggle to communicate with people close to us.
When we talk and we are being driven by our emotions, we will often say words we don't mean, cause hurt and pain, find it frustrating and difficult to say what we mean and end up in a row rather than a conversation.
Let's look at an everyday example. You have a child, perhaps a teenager, somewhere along the lines they have become a person you don't really recognise. They go out one night, get drunk, arrive home late, hardly able to stand and pretty incoherent. You, as the adult have been waiting for them, you have become increasingly worried because they are late, and you begin to fear the worse. You ring their phone - no reply. You send a text - no reply. You are imagining what on earth could have happened. The little voice inside your head start to tell you how selfish they are, if they cared about you they wouldn't do this. The longer you can't get hold of them, the stronger your emotions become. You are probably more worried than anything else but lots of other emotions are kicking in.
They arrive home and you are so relieved, do you say, "thank goodness you are home I've been so worried about you?" or do you say something along the lines of "where the heck have you been, look at the state of you, you're late, you stink, and you’re a disgrace . . .. . . . ." You probably even know you don't want to say these words but before you know what has happened they are there.
Emotions, when uncontrolled, can make us say words we don't mean and take actions we wouldn't usually do. Think about a time you have been driven by a powerful emotion like love, grief, jealousy or even hormones!!! Do you behave in the same way you normally do?
It's all about you
You are motivated by your own values and beliefs so the way you communicate is all about you, your point of view and what you want. We, as amazing humans, are very selfish, sorry to tell you this, and we have to be because we are responsible for our own happiness. I am pointing this out to you so you can become more self-aware. Once we are more aware of how we are, we can consciously make an effort to change or take a moment to understand if we are like this then so are other people.
Once we get this concept, it's easier to identify why the communication might not be going so well. Especially with our kids, who we are guiding to be mini versions of us, and so of course at some stage, as they form their own opinions and experiences, we are not always going to agree.
What can we do?
Great question? If we are being driven by emotion then timing is everything, walking away might be the best answer and come back to the conversation when your emotions have lowered and your rationale is more stable. You could use words like, "I am very angry at the moment and don't want to say something I will regret so can we talk about this later?", or if we go back to our example, " when you come home late, smelling of alcohol and hardly able to stand, I feel very worried as I don't know what's happened to you."
Listening, without judgement and reminding yourself you are being driven by your own values and beliefs. Letting the other person say all they want to say, without interrupting or telling them they should, or need to do an action. Reflecting back what they have said, rather than asking lots of questions especially "why" questions, which often sound accusatory or distrusting.
Being self-aware is a good place to start and listening to how you and others communicate will help.
Please like, share if you have found this useful and don't hesitate to contact me if I can help you.