You’re not listening! You don’t understand! I can’t take it anymore! I can’t get through to you! Why can’t you just listen! Do those phrases or others like them sound familiar? Are they said between one spouse and another or a parent and a child or two sisters?
It is common to read about children and parents or relatives or couples that no longer talk to each other—that are estranged whether they are living together or not. Maybe it was the last straw incident or maybe it happened over time.
So, when a client says to me “I just can’t get through to my husband”, I know how frustrated they are. What’s happening here? Well, there is so much that could be happening but I want to touch on just a couple of things. With the caveat that if you just want to vent and emote and not get anywhere then this doesn’t apply to you. It only applies to those that want to communicate something and maybe reach some type of understanding or agreement that can improve their relationship.
1. No connection: Without it being a trusted space where the “other” feels loved and not attacked, nothing much happens. This means that you need to stop and create a context for the discussion, and a safe space before you can really have a connected, worthwhile conversation and get anywhere.
2. Telling and yelling: When you’re really upset maybe you tell your spouse or your kids how you are feeling, what they are doing wrong, what they have to do and probably get emotional or heated or loud. Unfortunately, no one really hears us when we are loud or scary or too emotional. The person being yelled at or bombarded only wants to escape and their brain shuts down. So, that doesn’t work.
3. Lack of focus: You have something you want to discuss with your elder parent or your husband but somewhere along the line they plug you in, trigger you or they go a different route and you go with them so you lose focus regarding what you really wanted to talk about and more importantly what the outcome was you wanted. So, nothing gets resolved.
4. Not Grounded: If you’re not grounded or can’t get grounded before or during the “discussion” then you need to take a break and come back to eat when you are feeling in control.
5. No Validation: You make the “other” wrong, diminish them, appear righteous rather than seeing where they are coming from and validating them and their reality. You don’t get them to agree to the small things along the way. It’s your way or the highway so it’s probably the highway.
6. Talking to Yourself: It’s a monolog. As long as you get your points across, you’re ok. Are you getting their take on the situation or their feelings and needs? And, stopping to acknowledge when they make a good point or are you too defensive?
How To Communicate So You Are NOT Really Heard