Communication is a deal breaker in a relationship with anyone from your mother, father, boyfriend, siblings and friends. We communicate with these close contacts everyday and there are times where what we say can be either misunderstood, over the top, taken out of context or just plain inappropriate. The results of these words or lack thereof can result in a fight. There are four prevalent mistakes that we make when communicating with others that we care about. It is important to be aware of these mistakes and work on them in order to establish healthy communication.
Using statements like “You should listen to me” are ineffective in creating a comfortable environment for productive communication. This makes the opposite person feel attacked and automatically puts them on the defense. The person will feel more judged when being addressed with statements beginning with “you”. People don’t like to feel like their being bossed around so saying something like “You should open the door for me every time we enter any building”, is most likely not going to get you anywhere. It is likely that there will be conflict after statements like this or possible even no communication at all. On the contrary there are situations in communication where using the “you” statement are acceptable, like when giving someone a positive compliment, “You have a good heart or You have nice eyes”.
Broad statements make people feel like you are generalizing their current situation to their whole life. “You always leave the door unlocked”. Saying this to your roommate after you come home to an unlocked door once or twice dramatizes the current situation and makes the other person feel like crud. Other expressions similar include “Everyone says that he is a player” or “She never has anything nice to say”. These often go hand in hand with “You” statements and are like a double slap in the face bringing a relationship farther from a resolution. Statements like this focus more on the problem and not on how to make it better.
Rough on the Individual, Easy on the Controversy
Focusing on the person verses the actual issue is also ineffective. This is bad for a relationship because it causes hostility, hurt feelings and other pain. Telling someone that they are stupid is hurtful, while telling someone “Hey, you are an intelligent person but what you did last night wasn’t smart” is moving towards a more positive direction. Putting down the individual attacks the person’s character while confronting a bad decision focuses on the actual issue.
This happens when you make the other person feel like their emotions, experiences and opinions invalid and not important. As soon as someone feels like they’re not being heard they turn off hearing the other person out altogether. Who wants to listen to someone who won’t listen back? “Your nagging at me is meaningless and I don’t care if what I do hurts your feelings” is an example of not validating someone’s feelings. This will lead to more negative statements moving further from resolution once again.
- 4 Things to Consider Before Starting Couples Therapy (psychcentral.com)
- Video: Communicating in Relationships (psychcentral.com)