Quick Tips on Healthy Communication
Here are several tips on healthy communication to decrease the likelihood of arguing.
Have you ever thought something like: “We could have avoided that argument if…” or “I wouldn’t have felt so angry if you just didn’t...” If this sounds like you, you are not alone. It can be difficult to communicate in healthy ways, especially when we are upset.
Here are several tips on healthy communication to decrease the likelihood of escalation.
1. Use “I” statements, followed by a feeling word.
Rather than saying something like, “You make me so mad when you don’t answer my text,” try “I feel worried when you go so long without responding to me,” or “I feel unimportant when you don’t respond to me.”
2. Take a break if you are feeling angry and do not trust yourself to remain calm.
Giving yourself a minute can reduce escalating feelings, and reactions you cannot take back. What is important is that you let the person know you need time to calm down, and you will come back to the conversation. This is different from giving the silent treatment because you are coming back to the conversation when you feel ready.
3. Use a calm, even tone voice.
It is tough to hear someone when they are yelling. Sure, they might be louder, but the message is not more clear. On top of that, yelling or harsh tones can be very triggering for other people. Often this can be due to previous trauma and can cause someone to feel overwhelmed, missing your message. If you struggle with this, ask yourself this question: "if I was in their shoes, how would I want the other person to communicate?"
4. Know when to compromise.
Or, when to “agree to disagree,” and know when that disagreement may go against your values. Ask yourself, does this difference really matter? If not, move on. If it does, boundaries may need to be set, for example: you may be able to disagree about what to eat for lunch and take turns compromising. Other disagreements may be bigger than this and go against your values.
5. Actively listen.
Really listen to hear the other’s concerns. This can help identify the core issue. Also keep in mind what they aren't saying. Does something feel like it's not adding up? Does it sound like there's something else going on making the situation worse? If you feel the need, ask if there's something else going on or something that you're missing. Sometimes this can be helpful in identifying other situations that may be causing anxiety or worry. We all want to feel heard, and this is one way to accomplish it.
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These tips are no guarantee to avoid arguments, as both people need to be open to healthy communication. Remember, you can only control the way YOU respond, not the other person. However, these tips can keep arguments from escalating and help lead to a positive resolution. Conflict is not always a terrible thing; if you can communicate effectively, healthy conflict can create growth. When you're ready to begin therapy in St. Louis, MO, follow these steps: