Lately I have been frustrated. My patience has felt tested. This has stemmed from a series of conversations with individuals who are either, not on the same page as me, or use language that I don’t understand. It feels like I’ve been teeter-tottering and trying to find my balance for a while now, and it’s become exhausting.
People always emphasize the importance of good communication. To be a good partner, or employee, or friend, you have to communicate well. But that quality is a practiced skill and it affects everything. The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your conversations. Dialogue and communication, especially when something needs to change, is the number one thing that shapes our lives. Essentially our productivity and happiness depends on clear and meaningful conversations with the people in our lives.
Expectations, frustrations, or hurt feelings can either be transformed or worsened by the words we speak. Language is powerful AF. As individuals we have many choices on how we choose to communicate when things get tough. More often than not, I think the human emotional response is to speak poorly, be passive aggressive, resentful, or avoid communicating at all.
I think each of us have been a vessel and a victim of these behaviors. I know I am not perfect and often need to stop and think before speaking about important topics to avoid being too harsh or emotional. Many moments when I myself have sat in avoidance is because I am in a fearful place.
This is usually due to being afraid. Afraid to speak my truths, of rejection, misunderstanding, or backlash, but whenever I’ve indulged in these feelings, the fallout was inevitable. And maybe over something that was once trivial, like my boyfriend leaving the toilet seat up or my best friend forgetting to pay me back for a night out for the 3rd time. Then overtime like a disease, it spreads into something much larger due to hurt feelings and resentments.
I have lost relationships over these behaviors and ways of communicating, and have also been hurt from others communicating to me poorly. Though on the opposite end of that, my personal tendency has always been to overshare. This can also be bad, dependent on what place defensiveness takes in the conversations. I can admit I have been hostile, emotional, and over apologetic when in that place. And that "place" is never good.
Defensiveness itself is a black hole. It’s a feeling of being threatened or unsafe or questioned. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the actual words being spoken, but the tone and conditions of the conversation itself. Cultures of fear in my past relationships, workplaces, and even within my family have stemmed from defense.
But we cannot allow these things to stop us from sharing our thoughts. We shouldn’t apologize for our views and needs as an individual. It is hard to do, like way, way harder than me just typing it out. But softening our opinions is usually dishonest and only makes things worse. There is strength in vulnerability and being willing to listen when you disagree.
It is ironic right? I’ve experienced this my whole life, the more forceful I am about my viewpoint, the more resistant the person I’m talking to becomes. For a period of time, I made the mistake of constantly talking in absolutes. But just because I am passionate doesn’t mean I am right (though sometimes I am right, right??) I still have to be objective and kind. I can’t just sit in my beliefs like… “I’m right, everyone else is wrong and if they don’t agree with me then they are stupid and I’m going to SHUT THEM DOWN!”
That’s no way to behave or think or speak. It actually breaks people apart, and causes resentments that could last a lifetime. And it never gives the conversation a chance to end. It just puts a pause on the dialogue which will eventually (assuming you see the person again) cause the same issue to be brought up again and again, because you never heard the other person out and found a solution.
So what the hell do we do to change?
Be resilient when someone communicates poorly.
Apologize when necessary.
Set clear expectations.
Make a plan for what you want the ultimate outcome to be of conversations.
Be loving and kind.
And hopefully things can get a little bit better.