Many of us know that we should communicate effectively in order to maintain healthy relationships–both personally and professionally, but, what exactly does it mean to communicate effectively? Very few of us are master communicators and many of us have a hard time expressing exactly what we need. Even if we practice a conversation before hand–it often sounds way better in our heads than it does coming out. Because of communication issues, we fail to be heard, our message is lost, and then we fail to listen. We misunderstand others, they misunderstand us, and a tiny issue can blow up into massive complications very quickly if we aren’t careful.
Are you and your partner having communication issues?
Communication counseling can help. So many times the love is there, the intention is there, the effort to make things work is there, yet the individual messages simply do not connect. One of the biggest challenges that couples face when trying to communicate in conflict is their own personal pain and storyline. When we are in pain it is very hard to see through that pain, even if we are looking directly at the person we love and trust most. This lack of perception will leave us desperately searching for some type of relief. Therefore, in order to release our tension we will often project our pain onto someone else. We do this by yelling, insulting, or getting defensive. However, projection never works and the unpleasant impulses are later reflected back to us–sometimes with even greater force.
The only way out of the pain is through compassionate resolution, and it takes communicating in a respectful and clear way to get there. By establishing healthy dialogue with your partner and learning how to share your feelings and properly address conflict, it is possible to build a relationship that is strong and fulfilling.
We don’t all communicate in the same way
At Colorado Women’s Center we understand that there are several different communication styles that we practice according to how our life experience has shaped us. Some of the most common communication styles are: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.
Passive communicators believe their needs don’t matter. They appear very small and timid and they will avoid confrontation at all cost. They are people pleasers even at their own expense. They often become resentful.
Aggressive communicators believe that only their needs matter. They will accuse, threaten, insult, yell, and dominate. They have a tendency to get into relationships with passive people.
Passive-aggressive communicators will express their anger in the form of manipulation and guilt. They will feel aggressive and act out of anger, however they will hide their aggression under very passive behaviors such as, remaining silent, “forgetting” things, and changing plans at the last minute.
Assertive communicators will recognize that everyone’s needs are important and they practice honest, neutral language. Assertiveness requires a certain amount of emotional vulnerability. This type of communicator will use their level of maturity to seek out healthier relationships where needs are met, feelings are expressed, and everyone involved feels heard, seen, and connected, most of the time.
Which communication style do you resonate with most? Which style describes the way your partner communicates? How can you become more assertive in the way you communicate? Bringing awareness, through communication counseling, to these variables is the first step. Paying attention to your feelings and the way you express yourself in the darkest of moments is how you will gain the insight you need to change your behaviors. Typically, our communication problems at home are similar to the communication problems that we have at work. Therefore, learning communication skills such as, non-violent communication and active listening is so important in order to enhance all aspects of your life.
If you are ready to create long-lasting, mutually respectful peer relationships, contact us today at Colorado Women’s Center to schedule an appointment in our Longmont, CO office.