How many times have you found yourself mad at a person you love after a perfectly normal conversation? You are worried about something, you open up to someone you trust, and after a couple of minutes you end up thinking “Oh forget it”. Somehow you feel lectured and not at all understood despite normally being on the same page… How come?
Something went wrong on the communication level and the result can be disastrous for any relationships. At home or at work, it is fundamental to learn how to communicate better.
When communication goes wrong
Very often people are either too busy with their own problems, or so eager to throw solutions at you that they stop doing the very thing we all really need. Be listened to.
We get upset at friends and family that are actually trying to help us, and as a result, our reactions make us feel guilty as well as mad.
By expressing concerns out loud – and that is the point where we all get mad – we are not asking for a solution. Sharing our thoughts with someone trusted helps to relieve anxiety. What we look for is validation to feel supported and understood because deep down we already know we have all the resources we need to sort things out on our own.
But when someone tells us what to do or, even worse, minimises our worries, no matter how much we love them, we will end up feeling misunderstood and upset instead of relieved.
Communicate better can be easy
So, what are the steps to communicate better and help a relationship thrive?
Silence is so underestimated nowadays that has become a rare luxury.
We all are so self involved that we are often unable to shut up and actively listen to our loved ones, friends or colleagues.
Being quiet forces us to listen to what a person is saying as well as their tone of voice. It is useful to remember that paying attention to what is being said is important to communicate better, but the way one say things is fundamental.
To give you an example, our partners should know better that trouble is in the air when they sense something is wrong, ask suspiciously whether everything is ok, and we reply “sure” in that particular tone of voice…but they ignore it.
2. Banning the word “NO” from the vocabulary
It may sound counterintuitive, but validation is the one of the most important keys in dealing with people. You may or may not agree with the issue, but denying it is not going to lead you anywhere. The result is certainly more disagreement and the feeling their concerns are silly and not understood.
A good reply may be “I see your point”, “I understand”, and then just stop, and, if you want to say something, simply add your view on the issue.
The typical example is the dreaded remark “Oh my gosh, I am fat”. A woman not only expects you validate her concern, but also to say something genuine – and nice! – to reassure her and make her feel better. Replying “Ok, you may feel that way. What I see is a beautiful woman in a very attractive body” can be true gold. Guys, thank me later for this.
3. Asking the right questions
Asking questions helps the person you are talking to clarify the situation and get deeper inside the issue. Asking questions shows we care and we actually want more details. A question starting with “Why” will help get deeper in the motivations the person feels the way they feel.
To help someone focus on the solution rather than the issue, use “How” questions.
“What” questions are asked normally to understand facts.
Recapping what discussed and especially the action steps the person has come up with, is extremely beneficial. It will help make some clarity, will show you actually paid attention and that you are genuinely supportive.
I truly believe that our job as supportive partners, friends and parents is to empower our loved ones discovering they are resourceful enough to find anything they need inside themselves. Often giving unsolicited and pre digested solutions is easy and may seem helpful, but eventually it does not empower them and can be irritating if not upsetting.
We also need to consider that what resonates with us or worked for us in the past is not necessarily one universal truth that fits them all.
Ultimately, being strong and wise enough to be silent when necessary will go a long way in any kind of relationship.
What is your view on how to communicate better? Show us some love by sharing this blog post with your friends and by leaving a comment below.