Humans are social beings; they love company. The act of effective communication is crucial to form harmonious, healthy and satisfactory relations. It establishes a sense of being heard, acknowledged and understood. However, this act often feels like a very daunting thing to do, as feelings are complicated.
Sometimes we are unable to communicate how we feel. We fear that we might bore the other person, or we feel like a burden.
- Sharing how we feel or what we think is like being an open book, open to all kind of opinions and misinterpretations. The feeling of being vulnerable and the uncertainty of how the other person might take it makes us question the necessity of our disclosure. We filter things to please the other person.
- The society we are born and brought up in also influences the way we communicate. We must follow specific guidelines and rules to fit in the ‘ideal’ mould.
‘Boys don’t cry’, ‘Man up’, ‘Women should not get angry’, ‘Women should be docile’ are some commonly used phrases.
We unconsciously internalise these stereotypes: which in turn affects the way we communicate our feelings.
- There are things which we don’t want to accept and expressing these feelings/thoughts out loud would mean admitting them. The stage of denial abstains us from communicating what we feel.
Uncommunicated feelings and emotions tend to build up and haunt us later.
Pent up emotions need an outlet. Our mind is like a container; it can contain what is within its capacity. Exceeding its limit will result in overflowing and bursting out.
- Not being able to communicate correctly produces stress. It can also cause a ‘burn out’: which means a state of physical and mental exhaustion. This state results in mental breakdowns, tiredness, alienation from family, friends & work, lashing out and reduced performances.
- Overthinking and Anxiety : Pent up feelings can flood our minds; we might find ourselves thinking the same thing again and again without reaching a solution. Overthinking can produce feelings of uneasiness and anxiety.
- Helplessness and hopelessness : Ineffective communication leaves us with feelings which we might not be able to control, thus, leaving us helpless and hopeless. These emotions often create a barrier which drifts us apart from the people we love, adding on to our hopelessness and helplessness.
SO, HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THIS? HOW CAN WE COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY?
Effective communication is hard. To improve communication skills, one must practice.
- Identify and accept what you feel: It is easy to identify if you’re feeling good or bad. However, this description doesn’t provide an in-depth record of your feelings. Finding the root of the problem can also help in identifying how you feel. Once you’ve identified and accepted how you feel, it will be easier for you to talk about them.
What do you feel?
Once you’ve identified and accepted how you feel, either good or bad, try to describe the feeling. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ have different connotations, be specific. If you feel satisfied, happy, amazed, surprised or cheerful OR angry, stressed, dull, jealous or sad. What we feel at the moment and what we truly feel can be two different things. For example, you might be annoyed at your friend for not helping you in a task, but deep down, you are hurt.
- ‘I’ statements : Use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’. Using ‘you’ statements can make the person feel accused, and the person will rather be defensive and un-attentive than being receptive. Using ‘you’ statements can also be disempowering. Transferring the power YOU hold over YOUR emotions to the other person. Using these statements can be direct and confrontational. They add your point of view to the conversation and can help you deal with yourself.
- Know that what you feel is OKAY. Sometimes people don’t want to accept what they feel because they think it’s not ‘good’. If you’re jealous of someone else’s promotion, it’s okay. It is a human tendency to feel this way. It is different from trying to sabotage other’s success because you are jealous. The way you ‘act’ towards it matters. You can’t help how you feel thus, your sentiments are never characteristically off-base or terrible.
- Your feelings matter : People who care about you want you to be happy. They care about your feelings too. When we assume that the other person doesn’t care, we automatically shut ourselves down. Get away from toxic people who don’t care about your feelings. Choose the ones who do. Never let anyone dismiss your feelings.
- Choose the right place : If the area is noisy and full of distractions, communication failure is bound to happen. Choose an area with no or minimum distractions.
- Providing solutions : Expressing how you feel during confrontations can be challenging, especially without sounding accusative. Providing a solution to the problem can create a way for effective communication.
Effective communication is difficult, it requires practice.
It also helps in understanding oneself and expressing these feelings, can help people perceive you reliably. Communicating effectively enhances and strengthens relationships and makes the bond between the sender and the receiver stronger. It also decreases stress levels and provides mental stability. They are fundamental to a flourishing life.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” -Anthony Robbins
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