Have you ever had somebody say something to you that offended you or hurt you?
Did you tell them you were hurt or offended or did you walk away thinking less of that person?
Have you ever thought to yourself “my wife should have known to remove the blankets and the sheets from the bed before I got home with our new mattress to make it easier for me when I come home with the new mattress even though I never asked her to?
I have and I can recall another dozen times when I thought my wife should have done something to make things easier for me but I just never asked.
Then I got angry because she didn’t do the thing, I thought she should have done.
Many experts believe that poor communication is the number one reason for marriages ending in divorce.
Most people don’t know how to communicate effectively because they were never taught. I don’t ever remember my parents teaching me how to communicate effectively, do you?
Some people take classes to learn how to communicate effectively because they want to better understand others and be understood
Some people take classes to stop that inner dialogue inside their head that assumes the other person’s intentions and they are wrong 99% of the time.
I had to learn my lessons the hard way. After years of suffering from poor communication skills, I learned a few simple skills that opened up a whole new world for me and eliminated so much drama from my life.
Here are five skills that helped me communicate more effectively and eliminate many misunderstandings that in the past caused A LOT of stress in my marriage and in my personal relationships.
If you don’t understand what is said ask. Don’t just walk away hurt or confused ask the other person what do mean? If you are still confused by what was said ask them to say it in a different way
Don’t assume you know how the other person will respond to your request or statement. If you think what you are going to say is going to upset them the other person preface your words with “What I’m going to say may upset you”. In other words, avoid mindreading.
Listen to understand without getting defensive. Both parties must listen to each other’s complaints without getting defensive or interrupting the other person. If either party is upset wait until the emotions settle before talking.
Be specific about the issue at hand and avoid statements like “you always do that!”
When responding to acts or statements that may offend you be sure to express negative feelings using more, “I” statements instead of “you” statements. How you express these thoughts is critical. “I am really disappointed that you are working late again tonight,” is very different from, “You clearly do not care one whit about me or the kids. If you did, you would not work late every night.”
You can find more tips for dating or married couples in the book “The magic of Communication in Marriage” at https://firstthings.org/keys-to-effective-communication-in-marriage
You can also take free online communication courses at https://alison.com/courses/communications
Please try out some of these tips and leave a comment.