Communication breakdowns and the turmoil that often follows are among some of the most painful experiences in life for many women and as a Counsellor I often see people after a long series of communication breakdowns, which complicates things further and makes life feel really messy and unmanageable for them.
As busy mums who are often juggling far more than what would normally be considered humanly possible, I know you don’t have a lot of time or energy to sit and try and work through a miscommunication, pulling it apart bit by bit, agonising over where it might have gone wrong and guessing how you might have contributed to it so that you can “undo” whatever it was that happened and get back on track with whatever it was that was demanding your attention before the “thing” happened that caused a child to storm off and slam a door, a husband to get cranky or a friend to stop calling.
Today I want to highlight some common causes for communication breakdowns and give you some rules to live by that will fix them fast.
What I am going to do is give you some insight in to human behaviour – some rules if you like – that will help you to be more confident about moving forward when miscommunications do happen.
When we understand the dynamics of communication and the typical responses people have when it breaks down, we are going to be much slower to take things personally and much quicker to respond in a way that will actually make things better and fast.
Just last week I was talking to someone about an incident that had really hurt her. She thought everything was going great and then it occurred to her that she hadn’t heard from a particular friend for a little while so she decided to take some time out to call her and see what was happening.
What happened next she was totally unprepared for. Apparently she’d done something to upset this friend and she didn’t even know she’d done it. She totally got the cold shoulder and felt like she’d lost her friend forever.
As you can imagine she was devastated. After a little chat and some carefully worded questions however, she calmed down and was able to understand the situation from a different perspective.
There are some rules to follow when it comes to communicating that can make all the difference in situations like this. And whether it is with a friend, a partner, a child or a family member, the rules are the same.
Rule # 1
Know that when someone is having a reaction to you, it isn’t about you.
The same is true when you are having a reaction to someone else. You think it is about them but it isn’t.
He who has the pain has the issue that needs to be addressed so you need to stop pointing fingers or being defensive and start asking some questions about where the pain is coming from.
Rule # 2
Even if it is about you, it still isn’t about you and the sooner you realise this the sooner you will get to the real problem and find a solution.
As long as we are willing to take responsibility for how someone else is feeling, we are helping him or her to stay stuck and creating a problem for ourselves. Instead, take responsibility for triggering the pain and then dig deeper to find the original source. Ask questions like: What is really going on? What is the issue really about?
Rule # 3
All negative reactions are rooted in fear. It’s true. Fear of loss, fear of loneliness, fear of being unimportant, fear of being unlovable, fear of being not good enough, fear of being left behind…the list is endless.
Find out what the fear is in this situation and address it truthfully and compassionately.
Rule # 4
We all want to feel safe, heard, validated, loved and valued. We all want to know we matter and that our thoughts and feelings are important.
Find out: What is the need that is not being met in this situation?
Rule # 5
A genuine desire to support someone comes from the heart and asks the question, “How can I support you?” It creates a space for the people we love to explore their own needs and it lets them know that we are here for them while they do that.
Ask: What does your heart want? Whether it is your heart, or a loved one’s heart, you might be surprised by some of the answers you hear.
The wonderful thing about following these rules is that over time there seem to be less and less miscommunications as we learn to deal with what is happening in the moment, rather than getting side-tracked by what we are afraid might be happening.
Remember to be gentle with yourself as you learn new ways of doing things. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that is all anyone can do.
And finally, feel free to share this with someone you love if you feel they might benefit.
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I look forward to working with you and alongside you while you create your very own Juicy Life in 2016