Lately I’ve been observing the communication of two people I know to be in love. They love each other immensely but they cannot seem to get their communication with each other in check.
They’re not the first nor the last couple I’ll ever see with this issue, it’s a common problem that most couple’s face. However why does it happen and how can it be fixed?
Why the Miscommunication?
How many relationships have you experienced or seen that suffered from miscommunication? This doesn’t just apply to lovers or partners, but even with family and friends.
Someone says something and the other hears it and understands it as something else completely. Each then talking about something totally different from the other. Eventually one realises the other hasn’t understood their original point and BAM, an argument erupts and all hell breaks loose.
One misunderstanding after the next and then eventual break up, separation or worse live with a passive aggressive attitude.
Why does this happen? It’s simple, each person sees, hears and experiences life differently than the other. Each person will hear what they want to hear and see what they want to hear and so on. It’s all because of the filters with which they experience the world. Based on your life experiences, upbringing, traumas, inherited traits etc… you’ll perceive and react differently than someone else.
What Colours Our Perception?
As I mentioned before, every little bit of experience, belief, value and behaviour that influenced you and set roots in your mind, affect your perception of the world and how you react to it.
One person who is focused on how people see him and thinks that everyone should see the world the way he does, “the right way”, will react negatively to anyone who contradicts or challenges his perception. If it’s a sore spot for him and he places high value on his being right all the time, anytime someone proves wrong will probably be subject to attack.
Another person might see herself as a victim, someone who’s always being subjected to abuse and control. Every time someone asks her to do something or to stop something she does, she might see it as an attack on her freedom and her choices. Most likely she will retaliate and claim that the smallest request is a form of control and punishment.
How do you see their argument playing out?
There are plenty of examples, and whether each person is right or wrong is not important, as they’ll both be right when you hear their story. What they both fail to realise is that they’re not actively listening and not putting themselves in each other’s shoes. They allow their past experiences and pains to colour their actions and behaviour.
What Needs to Change?
A lot. But most simply, start by actively listening to one another. Often in fights and arguments, each party is so focused on what they want to say next and how to defend themselves, that they don’t actually hear the other side. If they gave themselves the opportunity to actually listen with an open heart (even if a bit wounded) they’ll be able to hear the other person’s perspective and maybe understand what’s really bothering them.
We all too often allow our emotions to get the better of us. Take control. How many times have you lost yourself to anger, only to say “that wasn’t like me” after you’ve calmed down? It wasn’t “you” exactly, but your ego and shadow combined – a being that comes out to avenge all the pain and suffering you’ve experienced, at often the wrong target.
Imagine a child who was bruised, beaten and abused. One who’s anger, suffering, fear and shame grew year after year, stuck in the dark, with no air to dry out his wounds nor sun or love to heal it. What kind of adult will that child become? Every time someone makes him feel he’s back in that dark place, the inner beast arises and attacks – even if that someone is actually trying to help.
Empathy is vital for good communication. Everyone has their perspective and their pain. The same way you would like to be heard out and understood, you must give the other the same courtesy.
Agree on rules. Agree on what the rules are for your fights, discussions or arguments. Is there a safe word? A word which will allow you to pause the disagreement and go back to the real world for a while? Is there a “no-no” list? A list of words neither of you are allowed to use because it’s demeaning or hurtful to the other.
Whatever rules you come up with, make sure you agree to these very crucial points; open, honest and safe communication. This isn’t just for arguments but in every day communication too.
How can you expect your partner to talk to you honestly and openly about anything if there isn’t a safe space and habit of doing so? How can they guarantee you won’t throw a moment’s weakness back in their face the next time you fight? Or likewise?
Sit together, make a rule book and an agreement. Don’t tell each other just what you don’t want but include what you want. Even if it’s a hug or a flower or space for a set amount of time. Get into the habit of practicing, open, honest, respectful and safe communication. Acknowledge each other’s pain and perspective. Use compassion and empathy. And after it all, tell each other how much you value you one another – even if at that very moment you want to throw your partner off a cliff.
Integrate positive communication into your daily routine. In the mornings and throughout the day, share what you’re grateful for in each other and what you love in one another.
And forgive regularly.
Do you have any tips that worked out for you? Maybe some of your own experiences you’d like to share? Tell us about your point of view below in the comments section.
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