Something to think about before reading this post:
How would having better conversations improve your life?
Right now, I'm struggling with communication with my partner. We had a series of miscommunications that led to misunderstandings which has now left us in silence from his end. I've reached out to him but I continue to get silence in return. I know him well enough to know that pushing won't get me anywhere so I'm left to retreat to my own corner and wait until he decides he wants to talk to me.
Honestly, I hate this. I hate it when I can look back on something and see how something that seems so simple, like communication, can fail in such a big way and lead to a chain of events that didn't really need to happen. But yet here we are.
This experience got me thinking more about my own communication style lately and a habit I have is to to fill in between the lines with half-truths or things that I assume instead of taking the time to talk things through. Maybe you can relate? Our communication with each other reflects how we do, or in this case don't, connect with each other. And this is one of those things when it's good it's good and when it's bad it's bad.
Most of us can have a simple greeting with another, but how about those big conversations? How about talking through things after there has been a series of miscommunications that led to misunderstandings and possibly a lot of hurt? What do we do then? If I could go back and do it all over again, here are some things I would do:
- Initiate the conversation when I need to, someone has to go first.
- Turn my phone off and other distractions off so we can have focused time for the conversation.
- Look at him in the eye while we are talking.
- Listen - and I mean really listen - to hear what he has to say.
- Don't try to talk over him just to make my point heard. Each person should have time to say how they are feeling and feel heard.
- Don't jump to conclusions or assume the worst about him. I'm often surprised at what I hear when I listen.
- Be sincere in wanting to learn more about his perspective instead of assuming things (usually the worst).
- Contribute to the conversation by asking questions and sharing my thoughts. Now isn't the time to shut down. My feelings matter too.
There are many more things that I could do, but I think these tips above would have helped get the conversation headed in the right direction.
It's very easy after miscommunication to retreat to a place of self-imposed isolation. I have been the queen of that for most of my life. But it sucks doing that and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Isolating yourself brings more isolation and haven't we all had enough of that lately? Like I said in the tips above, someone has to go first to start the conversation. I'm not saying it always has to be you but it has to be one of you and who that is is up to you.
We all know that relief we feel after we've been able to clear up miscommunication. You can physically feel it in your body, at least I can. My body relaxes, my stomach untangles from it's knots and I feel so much relief I want to cry. And sometimes I do.
Better conversations can help us repair relationships. We don't have to be the best communicator in the world to do this either. You can just start where you are and as you try, you'll notice you develop self-confidence to keep having these meaningful conversations. When we feel heard we feel valued and understood, which is what most of us are craving. When we don’t communicate what we need or want, resentment can grow and the relationship can become irreparable.
Having better conversations will improve your life. It moves you out of a state of feeling isolated and depressed and can also relieve stress. What can you do today to start to have better conversations? Are you willing to open up and express how you feel? It's not easy at first but it does get easier over time and I have found that it is so worth it.
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