Relationships thrive on communication. It’s important to share and connect with your partner, friends and family. But, often we have an inner dialogue that we don’t share with anyone else. It is that unexpressed inner dialogue that can wreak havoc in our relationships because intimacy cannot be achieved without sharing our true thoughts.
Why is it so hard to communicate these thoughts to the people we care about? It’s because we are all afraid of being judged. If we express our true thoughts, then someone will know that truth about who we are. It’s harder to hold up the false version of yourself that pleases everyone. It’s much scarier to admit that you don’t know, you don’t care or you don’t want to. When you create a false version of yourself to fit another person’s expectation, it is to avoid rejection. Rejection, when you are being your full self, can be hurtful and it is understandable why it is feared. But, what you may not realize is that when you hold yourself back from the people you love that you do them a huge disservice and you lock yourself into never being truly understood or accepted.
It is possible to share honest communication, but it may need some rules to decrease the feeling of rejection. Here are some suggestions:
Create a Safe Space: Do not have an honest communication when you are angry, drinking or distracted. Plan it for a time when you are both emotionally available and open.
No Judgement: You have to show that your intention is not to hurt each other. They are your feelings. While they may have been triggered by the actions or words of the other person, you cannot blame them for how you feel. The goal of an honest communication is not to place blame, but to discuss feelings and make a plan to handle the feelings. Similarly, the other person must recognize that their actions have affected you in a way that they never intended. Together, you can come up with a plan to decrease the triggered actions and work on being there for each other.
Positive Reinforcement: There must be balance in every discussion. You can’t be completely negative and expect a positive reaction. It’s almost as important how you say it as what you say. Words hold power and stay in the mind long after the conversation. Speak to the person in the same way that you would appreciate being spoken to. When you are expressing your feelings, own them as your feelings. If the other person misunderstands your words, clarify without judgement.
Be open: If one person shuts down, it will not only end the discussion but it will reduce the likelihood that the other person will want to open up and communicate later. If you feel yourself shutting down, tell the other person the truth. Tell the person that your feelings are hurt and you feel yourself shutting down, so they can correct their approach or behavior. Negotiate better ways to discuss the matter so you don’t feel like shutting down. The goal of communication is always to get better at it.
Watch Your Body Language: We communicate with our body language as much as we do with our words. You may pretend to be open, but if you cross your arms, roll your eyes or sigh deeply; you are signaling to the other person that you don’t care to discuss the issue. If you don’t want to hurt their feelings, be aware of your body language.
Minimize Distractions: If you direct your attention elsewhere such as watching television or staring off into space, you are physically rejecting the person. If you can’t avoid answering your cell-phone, turn it off. If you can’t resist watching television, turn it off. If you are easily stimulated, you should find a quiet space to have your important honest communication. Mentally tuning out your partner will signal to them that you don’t value their feelings.
How you communicate is as important as what you communicate. These are a few things that you can do to share successful, honest communication with someone who you care about. Honest communication creates intimacy in a relationship. It lets you know that you value each other’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. In this life, we all want to feel connected. We all want to feel like our thoughts and feelings matter to someone. You have that opportunity to be that to someone in your life. You also have the opportunity to allow them to be that to you. If you can overcome your fear of rejection, you can open up the door to security within your relationships and experience a comfort-level that you may never have thought possible.
“I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’ – Oprah
What scares you about honest, open communication? Can you commit to trying it? What stands in your way? Share your comments.