By: Kandice
August 8, 2022

Do you sometimes get the feeling that your partner is not listening or understanding what you’re trying to say? Are there moments where you leave an argument feeling confused, alone and frustrated?  Lack of communication is one of the most common reasons why people see a therapist. 

When I meet with clients they tend to focus on the problem of “we don’t communicate well” or “communication is our problem.” They usually provide me with the most recent example of an argument that had.  When reflecting the primary emotions it appears that both individuals struggle with hurt feelings and anger. 

 A lot of the times when we communicate with other people our human tendency is to listen to respond as opposed to listening to the other person’s perspective. The skill of listening to the other’s perspective is something that is not taught very often. We become defensive when people point out our flaws and we become hurt when people use condescending tones or even aggressive words/behaviors. Communication is more than what we are saying to the other, it’s also about what the other person is hearing. We each have a different perspective on how life should be run and how people should be treating others. An expectation is developed and we assume everyone will understand what we are trying to say.

 Here are a few suggestions that I provide to the people I meet with in regards to communication problems. If you feel misunderstood, reflect on how you’re saying the statement. Are you using more “you” statements as opposed to “I” statements? “You” statements are ones where we are pointing out all the things that they’re doing wrong that hurts us. This would also be considered as blaming the other for your feelings and reactions. These types of statements lead the other partner to become defensive.  When both parties are defensive the situation will not be resolved easily.  When we become extremely defensive or even angry we are not able to comprehend, understand or take a step back from what the other person is saying. This could be considered as flooding.  Most people when flooded tend to feel the urge to remove themselves from the situation.  Some will leave the argument either physically or emotionally.  This could leave the other partner feeling abandoned, rejected or even afraid. 

 Engaging in self reflection on how you are presenting the information will help you be able to communicate better and more clearly to your partner. For the listener it’s important to not listen to respond but listen to hear the others perspective.  One of the things a listener could do is ask themselves what is this person really saying to me? Am I getting all of the information or do I need to ask clarifying questions? You appear to be very upset. Would you like to talk about it? I understand that the situation is very stressful and that you would like things to change. Is that correct? By asking clarifying questions this helps the listener to understand the perspective of the speaker. 

 To listen to another’s feelings is to put your own emotions aside to hold them safely without judgement or criticism. If you are finding that your relationship needs more refining on how to listen to one another, reach out to either myself or any of the colleagues here at Healing Hearts of Indy.  We are ready to help you finally resolve your communication problems!