As I am rushing out the door one morning for work. I back out the garage not knowing the garage door wasn’t all the way up. I mean who doesn’t open the garage door all the way up? Since the door wasn’t all the way, you’ve probably guessed it I backed into the door and damaged it. My husband who is the garage door culprit says to me in a very SARCASTIC tone, “normal people check the garage door before they start backing out!” I yell back at him even more SARCASTIC with my neck maybe twisting, “normal people let the door open all the way!” We exchange a few other choice words at each other then I leave for work. We didn’t talk for most of the day when on a typical day we would talk periodically. You’ve been there before, mad and thinking I don’t want to talk to him or her right now or EVER (so dramatic). Talking about a communication breakdown!
Love Minus Limits conducted a survey and communication was listed as one of the main struggles faced by couples. Everyone struggles with communication not just married couples. Communication is a major part of life for everyone. In relationships, it is inevitable that you will experience arguments and misunderstandings. For today’s article, we are dealing specifically with communication when the wires get crossed, meaning a misunderstanding or argument.
Here are FIVE THINGS to CHECK when your wires get crossed:
Check Your Tone
Let’s deal with this one first. Remember the old saying, “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” Your tone can be heard long before your words. Raising your voice doesn’t help solve the problem. GUILTY as charged. Even your non-verbal communication is a part of your tone. Your facial expressions, body language, and gestures, etc. Your tone and body language communicate more than your words. This communicates exactly how you are feeling. Dig beneath the surface and be aware of the tension and attitude that you have brewing. Ask yourself where is this coming from? It’s hard to take a step back when we’re in the middle of our feelings. In those heated moments, STOP and think if I were watching myself on video how would I look?
Check Your Ears
This is one of the BIGGEST problems in communication. We listen to respond not to understand. Listening is a key ingredient to effective communication. Listening increases understanding. Remove distractions!! Your thoughts of what to say in response can be a distraction. Distractions can be your phone, the television or the radio. Make an effort to HEAR the complete statement before you interrupt the person talking. When you listen first you are seeking to understand rather than be understood. Empathize with him/her first and understand their perspective. Empathy brings greater intimacy! Their perspective may change your point of view. Just LISSEN! This isn’t the time to correct their grammatical errors or nitpick about something else. Stay focused on what they are saying.
Check Your Heart
Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. We use YOU statements thinking that it helps the other person understand. YOU statements makes the other person feel attacked or blamed. The blame game is a HUGE mistake. You control your feelings not the other person. Even though they may have you feeling a certain way you are in CONTROL of your feelings. Instead of saying, “You don’t communicate well and that’s why you never understand me.” Rephrase and say, “I feel misunderstood because of the lack of communication, and I feel disconnected.” Now I know this sounds IMPOSSIBLE when you are upset but with a mind shift you can do it. The YOU statements will build resentment and bitterness over time.
Check Your Method
Every team has a play book and your communication method is no different. Are you communicating with the sole purpose to win? If so, there is a deeper issue you need to resolve. Communicating is the gateway to learning and understanding your mate. It creates emotional intimacy not push you further apart. It also is the path that leads you to improvement of your relationship. Don’t overcomplicate things by using “never” and “always” statements to describe your feelings. Elisa Pulliam of Authentic Life, LLC uses a compliment sandwich technique such as this, start with 1 compliment, then a constructive point, and lastly another positive statement. For example, you are great at handling the finances but we should tighten up our budget just a little so that we can save for our vacation. That sounds so much better than saying, how can we save money to go on vacation if you are always shopping and never saving money. See the difference? Look for the Win-Win compromise!
Check Your Timing
There is nothing worse than bringing up an issue when it’s bad timing. Timing can mean your emotions, location, hour of the day, and current issues. Nobody wants to argue around company and be seen as the “drama couple.” Again GUILTY, I’ve done it before. My husband is little more private than I am. Be aware of your emotions when you bring up an issue. Think about where you are, the location may not be best. It probably isn’t wise to bring up a heated topic on the way to church or on date night. Be respectful and know that he/she has to work in the morning , so no 1am arguments. It’s ok to table the conversation until a better hour of the day. The worst arguments or misunderstandings are the ones in the morning right before work! UGGHHH!! Just a bad start to the day. Oh I digress….. Also, understand the temperature in your relationship. If your mate is having a bad day or upset don’t bring up the kids report card, the washer just broke, and I need a new car. Timing is EVERYTHING!
What area do you need to check the most during misunderstandings and arguments?
Seek help if you need it. If you or your partner continue to have difficulty communicating about relationship issues in a constructive way, it may be a good idea to seek help.