By Molly Lyda
Communication: The key to successful relationships before, during, and after heartbreak. Recovering from heartbreak is not easy. We all have had those sleepless nights or daydreaming moments where we replay many of the exchanges that went on with our exes. We find ourselves asking "Why didn't she understand what I was asking for?" and "Why didn't he listen to me befo...
Communication: The key to successful relationships before, during, and after heartbreak.
Recovering from heartbreak is not easy. We all have had those sleepless nights or daydreaming moments where we replay many of the exchanges that went on with our exes. We find ourselves asking "Why didn't she understand what I was asking for?" and "Why didn't he listen to me before jumping to conclusions?" Much of our self expression gets lost in translation or rather, in our communication.
In looking at the events and exchanges that led to the break up, chances are both of you had conflicting communication styles that didn't work. This led to hurtful words and provided little progress in what you were trying to express or resolve. As you move through the heartbreak recovery process, becoming aware of how you communicate can help in expressing everything you're going through during this tough time, improve existing relationships, and help you in new romantic relationships, whenever that time might come.
Below are 4 types of communication. Which styles do you use most?
The passive communicator has difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings. They tend to hold concerns in and hope things will get better. Since it is difficult for them to express their needs, they prefer their loved ones to read their mind and understand what is wrong. This person can often be perceived as shy. They are hesitant to express their feelings since it risks the other person getting upset with them and potentially starting a fight.
The aggressive communicator is able to express their thoughts and feelings; however they do so by offending people and not being respectful of others' rights. They tend to lack limits or boundaries with others and have a need to be in control of their surroundings or relationships.
Most people tend to be passive-aggressive. They have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly. They get their point across through sarcasm or through behavior, rather than speaking directly about their concerns and needs. As someone on the receiving end of a passive/aggressive communicator, you find yourself trying to read between the lines most of the time. Similar to the passive person, they don't want to cause any problems within the relationship, but they want the other person to know what they did wrong or how they were hurtful. The way they communicate is often vague and mixed with humor or sarcasm. If their point isn't being understood through indirect means, frustration often leads them to aggressive communication styles, which is offensive and disrespectful in the process.
The assertive communicator is able to express thoughts and feelings clearly and directly, yet they are mindful of not being disrespectful. This does not mean when you are assertive that the other person may not get hurt or upset, however, communication is very respectful. The goal is to understand each other, not to prove that one is right and the other is wrong. It's a win/win communication style. Assertive communication is done openly and often so concerns don't get bottled up, which typically leads to an explosion later on. The assertive person is direct, thus reducing the likelihood of assumptions being made by the other person who is trying to determine the meaning from what was being stated.
We all use these styles at different times in our lives but one style is more successful than others - assertive communication. The goal of being assertive is to express your thoughts and feelings respectfully. You also want to be open to hearing feedback and concerns from the other person.
The keys to using assertive communication include:
- speaking from your own experience and using "I" statements
- telling the other person that you hear them by acknowledging their feelings
- stating what you want respectfully
- knowing some alternatives or compromises to what you want
It's also important to stay away from absolute words and statements that tend to create defensiveness in others. These include: always, never, everyone, no one, I told you so, you should have, could have, would have, etc. Also refrain from giving advice and starting a sentence with "You."
It's difficult to speak assertively when we're emotionally reactive but if you can slow yourself down and remember your goal of having a successful exchange, rather than a win/lose exchange, your communication with others in all relationships will prove to be more satisfying, less stressful, and more successful.
Molly Lyda is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, who is close to MFT licensure. She is in private practice, working with individuals and couples with relationship challenges and she is an anger management facilitator for adults and teens. When she isn't seeing clients, Molly speaks and teaches at graduate programs and association meetings in the LA area. She is supervised by Anita Avedian, MFT (MFC 38403). Molly can be reached at email@example.com. Click here for more information on Molly.
BounceBack is helping people find happiness after heartbreak from a relationship breakup or divorce. It's a place to tell your story, get advice from experts, and share what you've learned with others in similar situations. Heartbreaks happen to everyone. And we believe everyone has the potential to bounce back to life and move forward. www.bounceback.com
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