Communication is everything! How frequently have you been cruising along having a great morning or day, and then BAM! Someone says something the wrong way that can really irritate you or hurt your feelings? If only they had phrased it differently, or approached you differently then you wouldn't be upset. What happens next? Your response may not be so gracious either and the downward cycle begins. It happens to the best of us, believe me.
Today I'm sharing six quick tips on how to help prevent an argument from happening and to redirect it's course if it already is happening. It's been on my mind after a few friends have sought my opinion/advice in the heat of the moment and their feedback was very positive and appreciative of the outcome.
Practice makes perfect and we're not perfect people, but the more you can implement these strategies the better!
1) Listen to what the other person is saying. Seriously. Most people only listen to reply, anxious to get their thoughts out without fully listening what is being said. Listening to understand the person is crucial because what they're saying is likely only the tip of the iceberg to what they're actually feeling on the topic, and you can then ask for more details to engage the conversation.
2) When someone is expressing themselves to you, one of the best responses you can provide is: "I'm sorry you're upset". You may not fully understand what they're feeling or why, but I am certain that you do not want them to feel that way whether or not you were the person who caused the emotion.
3) When someone is expressing themselves to you and you actually do understand what it is they are upset about, one of the most calming responses you can provide is: "I understand why you're upset." Feeling understood provides a sense of unity in the relationship (whether friendship or romantic) that you share the problem/emotion with the other person and thus will work to resolve it together, whether or not you caused the emotion.
If you are hesitant or concerned that you do not understand what the other person is upset about, then it is important that you try to understand them so that an argument does not breed on miscommunication. You can approach them by mirroring back what you think you heard and say something like, "I want to make sure I correctly understand what you're trying to convey. What I heard you say is _____. Is this correct?" This allows the other person to either confirm that is what they meant to convey or correct what they meant to convey. This is very helpful in heated moments because words can rapid fire out of our mouths (never a good thing) that produce the wrong outcome unintentionally. Give yourself and the other person a fighting chance (no pun intended) to prevent miscommunication from igniting an argument.
4) When you have a complaint or suggestion to give someone, it is nice to start it with a compliment. No one wants to hear how they've failed you or hurt you, and if you approach them with a complaint (or list of complaints) they may very well feel defensive depending on your approach. If you can start off by telling the person how they've excelled in another area then they will have more of an open heart and mind to receive correction. You can say something like: "I really appreciate how you do this or that and it makes me feel _____(something positive). I would appreciate it even more if you ____ or It would mean a lot to me if you did _____ also/handled it like _____ next time/phrased it like _____ next time." Acknowledging what they do well encourages that aspect to continue and you can build upon it by letting them know your needs.
5) Before expressing something that has upset you, take a moment to reflect on the person's intentions. Most people in your life, especially your close loved ones, do not set out to hurt your feelings. We all jumble up our words at times or sentiments are expressed abrasively in moments of impatience or frustration that may not even be directed towards the person on the receiving end. If you can remember that the person likely did not intend to hurt you, you will be able to approach them to let them know how you feel while extending them grace and forgiveness for being human. You can say something like: "I know/realize you did not intend to hurt me (my feelings), but I want you to know that when ____ happens/you do ____/you say ____ it makes me feel _____." You're providing the other person the opportunity to get it right the next time, and giving them the opportunity to resolve the unintentional hurt immediately instead of you letting it fester inside of you.
6) Last but not least on this quick list of ideas is to be mindful of your voice levels, tone and voice inflection, as well as body language. Non-verbal communication is equally important as verbal communication. You can attempt to express one thing, but your tone and body language can give off a completely different impression - much less if you're raising your voice. (Personal opinion...there's never a need to raise your voice at someone unless you're in a loud place and they cannot hear you. It's disrespectful.)
I hope that by implementing these ideas you will have greater success in communicating your feelings as well as understanding what someone else is trying to convey to you. Communication can make or break relationships at any level - friendships, romantic, or business. If we factor in patience and grace while listening and speaking to each other we will be well on our way to more effective and happier relationships.
What communication techniques work for you that help engage the other person or diffuse difficult conversations? Comment below!
Wishing everyone a wonderful day.