February Mental Health Moment
Often, emotional disconnect or conflict in a relationship can be attributed to an unhealthy communication pattern. Below are some communication skills that may help you to engage with those about whom you care this month.
Use “I” language: If you want to start a sentence with “you,” it is likely that the statement will be perceived as an assaultive one. For example, “you are being rude” probably only increases the behavior you perceive as negative because your statement will likely be seen as offensive and hostile. Try saying something like “I feel hurt when you insult me.” These kinds of statement reflect how you are feeling in the moment, highlighting the negative impact of the other person’s behavior without increasing aggression.
Take a moment to see the other person’s point: In an argument it is easy to become entrenched in your own perspective. If both parties become entrenched, hostility rises, and progression halts. Something about the other person’s assertion is important to them, even if you struggle to understand. Take a moment to find the importance, and (critically) reflect your understanding of their point. It may sound something like, “It makes sense why you would see that this way, and at the same time, I see this way due to these reasons.” It is imperative that your delivery be sincere and devoid of sarcasm or negative intonation.
Reflective listening: Repeat back to the other person what you heard. This doesn’t mean word-for-word repetition. Say what you perceive to have been said. For example, if someone says to you, “I hate how close you are to your mother,” you could reflect back “I hear you saying that my relationship with my mom bothers you. What can I do to help with this situation?” Very basic hearing what someone says to you and relaying that back to them goes a long way for a relationship because it tells them inherently that they are important and valued in that moment.