By: Kate Daigle
“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” -Nat Turner
Communication is key. Right? If we presume this is true, then why can communicating be so challenging?
It’s one of the most common issues I see when working, therapeutically, with both individuals and couples. They say things such as:
· “I just don’t feel understood.”
· “I try to talk to him/her, but it’s like I’m constantly repeating myself.”
· “I don’t even want to talk to him/her because I know it will start an argument.”
Whether you’re communicating with a friend, family member, colleague or a stranger - being intentional versus being reactive can feel like walking a tight rope, and one misstep can lead to an obstacle or a serious problem. One of these styles conveys meaning (intentional), while the other conveys a heat-of-the-moment feeling or reaction (reactive). The truth is, we all react sometimes., which is why we all find ourselves engaged in arguments and misunderstandings from time to time.
In times of struggle, like the kind that we’re currently experiencing currently with the worldwide pandemic, it has become common to see individuals engaging in gruesome arguments in the media, on social media platforms and in personal relationships… in fact, it might even be expected. This kind of engagement is rooted in anger, fear, disapproval, frustration, etc. It doesn’t truly convey a feeling that can be understood in a calm, rational, relatable way. Understanding arguments in the context of an individual’s emotional experience can lend itself to more compassion and kindness.
So, how do we communicate?
We’re in constant states of communication and these states can be expressed in the following ways:
· Verbal – general discussion from individual to individual using language.
· Nonverbal – representations of meaning via body language such as movements, expressions, etc.
· Written word – information conveyed through platforms such as social media, newspapers, etc.
· Visual – information conveyed through representations such as charts, pictures, etc.
Consider these questions when communicating:
1) What am I hoping to convey?
Are you clear on what you’re trying to say? Have you taken the time to process what you’re thinking/feeling before putting it into words?
2) Am I coming from a place of reaction? Or am I being truly thoughtful and intentional?
Our emotions can certainly interfere with our ability to truly communicate. Coming from a place of reaction might look like forming your thought based entirely on a feeling in any particular moment. Slowing down and taking a pause can allow you the time to reflect, which can help your interaction to be more thoughtful and intentional.
3) How is my tone?
We all know that how someone talks to us can make or break how we respond. If someone’s tone is accusatory, defensive or reactive, we might find ourselves shutting down, turning inward and withdrawing. Or, maybe, you find yourself in a heated argument, stemming from a place of anger or defensiveness. On the other hand, when someone’s tone is calm it can be much easier to understand what they’re communicating.
4) Am actively listening to who I’m communicating with?
Listening requires more than responding to someone’s message. It requires being present and focused on the individual in front of you. Through empathizing, paraphrasing, reflecting and validating, you can let someone know that you didn’t only hear them, but that you were listening to them.
I recommend you challenge yourself to reflect on your own patterns of communication within your relationships.
Do you often feel defensive?
Or something else?
When we consider these points, we can truly come from a place of love and empathy in our interactions rather than contempt and frustration.
If you find yourself wanting to learn more about loving communication, or if you find that effective communication is something that you struggle with, we can help! Book your free 15-minute consultation call with Kate here to learn more about how she can help you develop more effective communication strategies in your relationships.