Sometimes the silence of others can be uncomfortable. I have learned that the more comfortable I am with my own silence, the easier it is for me to sit with the silence of others. Except, the elephant in the room-- how do you remain silent about this...how do you have a difficult conversation?
This month, I have been posting on my social media platforms intimate partner relationship centered quotes. These posts may be helpful for anyone on the relationship spectrum-- "together," broken up, going through a divorce or solo for a while (intentionally or unintentionally) trying to figure out your own relationship concerns.
Communication styles may be reflective of a few things to include personality, culture, sub-culture and family upbringing. At times, it may be a clash of egos. One things for sure, people in intimate partner relationships are not the only ones impacted by communication issues. As a therapist, I have seen where the loss of a great friendship with a family member or friend may be linked to some type of breakdown in communication. Here a few things that may impact or improve communication:
Assumptions: Being perceived as "the strong" friend can result in low reciprocity in times of need. Being perceived as someone to always ask for money because, "Oh she/he has a good job" can result in resentful feelings when told "No, I can't lend you the money." Being perceived as an "angry person" can be the mask to someone's depression. The point is, ask questions instead of assuming. Depending on your level of investment or closeness to someone go deeper than the surface. Whether at home or at work, simply asking questions provides the opportunity to obtain someone's truth rather than an assumption of someone's truth.
Ego: While I understand the ego can work in a positive way in certain situations (I think less than most situations), lots of times an inflated ego or pride can prevent vulnerability and relatability in conversations with others. Simply setting the ego aside to listen can help to increase understanding.
Ignorance: Stereotypes and judgments sometimes result from too little knowledge about someone or a situation. It is okay to say "I don't know." Also, if directly impacted by a communication challenge, taking time to increase your knowledge about a given conversation topic may help to increase self-awareness and expand knowledge.
Self-awareness: Listen to yourself while speaking and be conscious of how the message is coming across. Think before speaking or typing. Taking note that tone, body language and words are delivering the message the way it is intended (as much as this is in your control).
Sense of Humor: Some things really are not that serious. Be able to laugh with others or at your own self. Humor takes the edge of tense situations at times and can help to decrease nervousness about a conversation that may be difficult.
Silence: Know when to just be quiet. It is amazing what can be learned during a moment or days of silence.
"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus