Communication is not just about talking. It is as much or more about listening! Really listening. When your mate (or anyone for that matter) is talking, are you really listening or are you thinking about your response. Do you let your mate finish their thought before you jump in with your response or even redirect the conversatio…n to another topic? When you have a disagreement do you just think about why your mate is wrong or do you take an introspective look at yourself to see what you contributed to the misunderstanding? How are flippant or sarcastic remarks taken? Are they take with a sense of humor or are they taken to heart?
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. There was a short pause in the conversation and I assumed it was over so I walked out of the room. In the meantime, she started to talk again, not knowing I had left the room. When I returned to the room I explained how annoying it was that she was trying to talk to me from another room. I couldn’t understand a word she said. She apologized and said the she hadn’t realized that I had left the room. When it happened a second time a couple of days later, I announced that I had left the room about the same time she recognized I was gone. I was annoyed again. For me, this is a learned response from past relationships where a conversation would continue whether I was in the room or not. I never looked at the situation from the perspective of what I could do to fix it. It was always my mate’s fault for talking while I wasn’t there!
I never had learned to identify my potential contribution to miscommunication. In the situation above, it dawned on me that my friend didn’t hear me leave the room. The simple cure is I need to announce when I am leaving!
Be careful with flippant or sarcastic remarks. While they may be said in jest, they may also be shutting down the emotional availability of your mate. How do you know for sure? Ask them and LISTEN to their answer. NEVER dismiss their answer by saying “It was just a joke. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
When you sense you are not having great communication, that your mate may have shut down emotionally, or you find yourself cutting your mate off in the middle of a thought, take a step back and think about what your roll in the miscommunication is. If you are truly honest with yourself, you will be able to identify your contribution. If you can’t figure it out, ask your mate for help. (It is always easy to point out other’s flaws!) You will be surprised at how communication will improve when you are both able to admit you had a part in the miscommunication. The key is to identifying where you both went wrong and to work on correcting or unlearning (bad) habits.