by Rami Henrich, LCSW, Dipl. PW
Have you ever fallen into the pit of communication challenges? Or should I say miscommunication? What an interesting phenomena it can be, if and when you have the detachment to notice you are in the pit and are able to name it as interesting!
More often it is experienced as a quagmire, an endless spiral into the depths of frustration and at times hopelessness.
Here are a few tips to keep from falling, or at least to catch yourself when falling, into the pit.
1. First, tell the person you’d like to talk. Ask if now is a good time, or set up a time that isn’t rushed to have a chat. Don’t just launch into your frustration or complaint without the agreement of the other person.
2. Begin your interaction by bringing forth good will. Start by letting them know your big picture intention. Hopefully, you want to work through the current issue to improve the relationship, or to expand the feelings of closeness between you. Say something like, “I’m bringing this up because I really care about you and would like to get closer.”
3. Agree together that one person will be the speaker and one will be the listener. And that you will switch back and forth so each will have a chance to speak and be heard.
4. Speaker take your side fully…by that I mean say all you need and want to say.
5. Listener tell the speaker what you’ve heard them say. You can ask for short communications as too much can feel overwhelming. This is an incredibly important step as we all, at least the all that I know, crave being heard and understood.
5. In addition to hearing what the other has said, the listening partner tries to express back to the speaker what you’ve heard, venture a guess as to how the speaker is feeling. Being vulnerable, sharing yourself deeply, calls for feeling responses too. Not just the “I heard you say” responses. Both very important.
6. Then switch. Speaker become listener, listener become speaker.
Keep going until you feel a shift in the atmosphere between the two of you. I know the pit can feel bottomless but there really is hope!