Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Relationship Series, Final Topic, Communication

Wow, I can't believe we are in our final week of our series, it's been such a great experience, I'm really glad we moved forward with it! Thank you to everyone who read, encouraged, and joined along with us for the last few weeks. It was a blessing to be a part of with Vintch, and Mama Loves Papa!

I have learned so much about communication over the years through being a single mom, to being in management at work, to being married, to friendship to Co-dependency, just countless ways I have learned about communicating. I would consider myself a communicator. How bout you?

I think it's crucial in any relationship, like the ones I listed above. I am not afraid to communicate either; it's such a healthy thing and can solve many issues, relieve anxiety, and help us understand one another. The problem is is that not everyone feels this way. A lot of people are hesitant with communication or confrontation, so that makes communicating even more difficult.

The best way for me to share about communication I think is just to tel you what I have learned.

Aw, we don't want this!

Communication can and will keep you on the same page with someone. More times than not we assume or judge, and this leads to unnecessary problems. Communication is a tool to clear things up, get on the same page, ask any questions we might have.

Communication is mainly about being a good listener. A compassionate listener. In my book Trusting You Are Loved by Lew Epstein (if you haven't read it I recommend this book, I consider it a helpful relationship tool book). Lew says this about compassionate listening: 

"Having compassion for another human being means we listen without judgement, without analyzing, without trying to fix the situation or need to change them. We need to just hear without evaluating. Instead of hearing as they try to communicate with us, we react in various ways: by defending, explaining, or justifying, or feeling the need to offer opinions and advice. Judgments and evaluations are a given, but compassion, ahhh that's a rare bird and it's a choice we can make."

What I've learned is that the other person just wants to be heard. They don't always want advice, or for us to jump in, they want to be listened to. Most of the time our advice is premature and then the other feels shut down.  I've learned it's better to ask if someone wants advice or input or ideas or thoughts. More times than not, if someone is coming to you with a feeling or emotion, they just want to be validated. And all feelings matter, they are valid. They might not be accurate or even reality, but we need to treat others coming to us, trying to communicate with us, with fragility. Walls stay down this way.

My 10 best tips on communication:

1.) Pick a good time to communicate. There is a good and a not so good time for communicating. You should be able to feel out the mood, the time, and the situation to know if it's a good time or not. Timing can be everything.

2.) Care about what the other person has to say, whether you think it's lame, unjustified, stupid, or annoying or even unfair. Compassion can trump this. Love trumps this. Just look out for their well being. Be concerned for them.

3.) Communicate with a nice, gentle tone. Think of it as being tender. If we go to someone in to communicate something or during communicating we have a rude tone, or a degrading attitude, it will close the persons spirit off. Be nice.

4.) I've learned the hard way that when things get heated, just stop. I mean communicating can turn into a war, we all know it. So walk away if this happens. Put up a boundary and just walk away respectfully and tell them you can not and will not be a part of this screaming match or disrespectful environment.

5.) Try to put yourself in the other persons shoes. See where they are coming from as best you can. I've learned that we have all got different brains, DUH, but seriously, we are all wired so differently, we've grown up differently and have family of origin stuff, and experiences that can make communicating extremely difficult and unpleasant. But don't give up! Too many people give up in communicating because it's hard! But when the going gets tough, stick it out! Likely you'll come through on the other end happier, and more relieved because something has gotten resolved etc.. etc..

6.) Teach your kids to communicate! Teach them to be open, and teach them to speak up and show them how to get through conflict, it's so good for them. Being an example is the best. Show them that it's worth the difficulty that it is sometimes when communicating. Show them that communication builds growth. Tell them that everyone communicates so differently and to learn how to be flexible with people. (It's unbelievable how one person can hear one thing and another can hear it another way).

7.) Use "I" statements. When you go to someone in communication, don't start by saying...
"You always_____". First of all, "always" is such a global statement, no one always does something. You can say often, but always, not so good. When we start off our sentences by saying "You____" automatic defense go up! Speak from your point of view. Saying "You" is like pointing the finger at them, or placing blame on them, and that's not cool.

8.) Never tell the person that what they are sharing is silly, dumb, stupid, no necessary etc...every person needs to be heard and validated, no matter what. Be empathetic, and focus on the communicator, not yourself, you'll get your turn, and you'll appreciate it when you are the one trying to communicate to someone!

9.) Reiterate what the person has just said. Ask them, "Are you saying_____?" Make sure you have heard them clearly so you don't put words in their mouth. That is my worst pet peeve is when people twist what I say or communicate and put words in my mouth that I literally did.not.say. Just double check with the person to make sure you heard them and understood them correctly and clearly.

And lastly I have this slick, handy dandy, worthy of printing chart (I should have scanned it, but I'm pretty awful and not savvy with that sort of thing, plus my husband is out of town, and I couldn't ask him for help)!


Offers sympathy or agreement
Feels upset, is justified (I'm right)! (this isn't really a good thing
Upset remains; grows stronger, no relief

Gives advice prematurely 
Feels defensive, judged, dishonored
Upset remains; speaker withdrawls

Argues or disagrees
Feels defensive, judged, and not heard
Upset remains; anger and resentment build

Listens with compassion
Feels heard and honored
Upset dissolves; experience of safety and partnership is created! BINGO!


Natalie said...

Good communication is key indeed! Thanks for sharing all the tips!

ruthy ann said...

my husband always says that communication is a receiver defined phenomenon...it really doesn't matter what we say, it's what the other person hears. (he is soooooo good at this communication thing...i'm the one that has had to learn how to do it better!).

Alana said...

These are all really great tips! It's amazing what problems can be avoided and worked through simply by having good communication!

Gaby said...

Oh man, this is such a helpful post! I have this one friend who is so good at communicating that I'm always in awe of her. BUt it's definitely a skill that can be cultivated if we try. Thanks for the tips Gina! xx

Liza said...

I've loved this whole marriage series. Thank you for your openness & honesty. I've taken a lot away from it & learned a few things that I could be working on in my own marriage.

I've only been following your blog for a little while, but I've really enjoyed it. Your complete willingness to be open just as you are is so refreshing.

God Bless!

denise* paper angels said...

wow :) these are super useful, both in relationships and in being a teacher (for me!!!) i think i often fall into the agreement/sympathy and disageement categories! now i'll know when i'm doing it.x

Joanie Garborg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanie said...

Gina, I'm the one who chatted with you in the hospital waiting room. I really like your blog.
I said I would send you a couple quotes, and here they are:
1. "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord" (Psalm 45:11). This is part of a wedding song in the Psalms, but I think it refers to our relationship with God too.
2. "Affliction can be a means of refining and of purification. Many a life has come forth from the furnace of affliction more beautiful and more useful.... Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as adversity has done. Out of pain and problems have come the sweetest songs, the most poignant poems, the most gripping stories. Out of suffering and tears have come the greatest spirits and the most blessed lives" (Billy Graham).
God bless you!

chambanachik said...

Such fabulous tips!

Morgan Fairchild said...

Such great tips, Gina! Thank you for sharing! I've definitely fallen in the scared of confrontation, so avoid communicating category, but I think I'm slowly learning. :)

I have SO loved doing this with you. You are SUCH a blessing! Also, I have just finished reading Sacred Marriage. SO good! We'll have to discuss it more soon! xoxo

Rachel said...

Thanks for your sweet comments! Andrew is actually going to a Bible School in Wyoming (and I live in Indiana), which is why we don't see each other very often. He actually grew up in Utah, so its by the pure grace and amazing plan of God that we ever even met! :)

God bless!

Julie Marie said...

sooo good gina... i agree, validation when communicating is necessary...personally when i communicate, i dont always want a response, just someone to listen.. but i need to do the same for others. thanks =) sharing this for my FB friends.. (again)
xo julie

memory said...

I have such a hard time being a good communicator. Being someone who doesn't enjoy talking much, it's hard for me to keep the lines of communication open. It's defitely something I need to work on!

Thank you for your comments...I always enjoy them SO much!! Thank you for your compliment on my headband, I actually won that in a giveaway but it's from lovestitched.com :) Oh and I LOVE Bible Bowl class!! A lot. Yes, yes! You should do a happy post!...love those.


african woman said...

Communication is really the key to stay in touch with each other and to have a better relationship to your loved ones. What a nice tips! I will bookmark this and gonna remember it because sometimes we can't avoid some misunderstanding specially in communicatingwith someone so better be aware to have a nice conversation at all.

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