Question for Penny: I know honest communication is key to a successful relationship, and so I make a point to always communicate with my partner so there is no misunderstanding. I try to speak positively, but most times we get into an even more heated argument. It’s so frustrating I just want to give up! What’s the point of communicating openly if this is the result?
Answer: There are too many variables to touch on with this topic; the timing, the mood, the words you choose, relevancy of what’s being said, can all affect the message you intend to deliver. Verbal communication is not enough. It doesn’t work as effectively unless paired with your mindful awareness of how you come across as you’re delivering your message. How is your facial expression? Body language? Tone of voice?
We may have good intentions with our message, but our delivery could be the reason it is not received well. So the question is, how could you be better at delivering your message if you want to be understood? You’re certainly not alone because the truth is, we ALL go through this. I certainly have my share of moments forcing me to continually refine my communication skills.
The biggest communication problem is that most of us do not listen to understand. Instead, we listen “on guard” ready to reply, to resist, or fight back. This is where all misunderstanding begins and suffering thoughts and emotions escalate. It’s NOT only about trying to get your point across. Because that alone is NOT effective communication.
Effective communication is one that is not only honest, but also kind, or at the very least, fair. It is one that delivers only facts, and is done with tact. If your communication isn’t coming through kindly, then it’s hurting more than it’s healing.
And don’t expect the other person to respond the way you think "they should respond” because you can’t completely control how others choose to respond or react. It would be wiser to learn to be open so you don't lock in on specific expectations and set yourself up for disappointment.
So how do you deliver this kind of calm, and also help your partner understand? How do you share kindly, and in return receive his/her respond or reaction with compassion? The answer remains: Practice. Practice. Practice.
Start by remembering this: People can forget what you said, people can forget what you did, but people will never forget how you leave them feeling. So before you speak, ask yourself, "how do I want to leave my partner feeling?” You certainly don’t want to leave them feeling hurt.
But for the most part, when you truly love someone you want to do what’s best for the relationship. By asking "how do I want to leave my partner feeling?” perhaps it can activate a deeper part of you that innately knows how to deliver a more effective style of communication that is healing, not hurting.