Communication Woes by Dr. Ee’a Jones ~ May 2021
What makes it so hard to communicate your feelings to someone? Maybe you are shy. Perhaps you are afraid to hurt the other person’s feelings. Is it that you are thinking about the fallout and think it will be better to remain status quo and not address any issues? The important thing to think about is…who benefits from poor communication? More than likely, no one truly benefits in the long run.
There are different ways to express feelings, according to Bourne (2015). You can talk it out. Would you choose this way to let others know how you feel? I think one of the problems people do not realize is when talking it out, sometimes one or both parties don’t get to finish their thought, or they don’t get to complete the whole list of things they wanted to say. You know how you can go over the list of points you want to make in your head. This is especially true if you know it is going to be a difficult conversation. Not being a good listener and allowing the other person to complete a thought before responding is unfair to the other person. And surely you expect them to allow you to finish your thought before they respond to you.
Don’t get me wrong – all people don’t communicate without listening first and every conversation one person has does not end with one or both parties not listeneing. But it is food for thought the next time you have a difficult conversation. Some things to think about are: is the person sensitive to certain words, confrontational, tends to blow things out of proportion? If these are true, you want to tread lightly or wait for the right time to have the conversation. Or perhaps, you need to write it out as Bourne (2015) suggests.
Writing down your feelings or points you want to get across in a difficult conversation is a good way for you to vent your feelings on paper. It is also an option to give the person the paper so they can read all of it before responding to you about it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on paper. You can write an email or text. If emailing or texting, beware that the intent behind your words can be lost and perceived incorrectly by the other party. The same can be true if you write it out but hopefully you are doing an in-person delivery (post-COVID times), or you can let the person know to expect the email or text so you can be on the phone, or some virtual platform. That way, you can discuss the issues right then.
Another thing to keep in mind is you want to make sure the other person is willing to listen and discuss the issue(s) before you lay out the issue for them via phone, email, text, or virtual platform. Sometimes a person is not in the right headspace to deal with anything you have to say. And you never know the battles people are fighting that they don’t tell you about. You can assume you know but you really don’t always know. Also stay away from blaming the person for the problems between you. (Bourne, 2015)
Use “I” statements to take ownership of your feelings and not put the other party on the defense. These “I” statements are as follows: I feel ___(insert your feeling here)___ when you ___(insert their action here)___. An example is, I feel angry when you ignore my questions. Starting the sentence with “I” is the taking ownership part. If your sentence begins with “you”, the other person will likely think you are blaming them for something and the initial reaction is usually to defend oneself.
Take these things into consideration before expressing your feelings to someone. Think about it before you have your next difficult conversation. It could save you and the other person some frustration in the end.
Bourne, E. J. (2015). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (6th ed.). New Harbinger: Oakland, CA.