We would argue every day and I was now growing very tired of it. I can still remember the conversations with the love of my life while I was attending University.
“Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19 ESV.
This has got to be true of most relationships, I remember telling myself, on my way to see her at the dorm, “Don’t say it, don’t get sucked in today!” but the minute we get together and she says something that ticks me off. Key to Your Relationship Success
Words just start tumbling out of my mouth, often resulting in reactions that range from anywhere from her rolling her eyes, or just saying something that causes us to argue until one of us decides we have had enough and storms off, to be back at the dorm missing her.
I know you are aware of what I am talking about?
There are different communication styles that we are all aware of, these styles are developed over time from our different experiences or observations:
This is the style in which individuals have developed a pattern of avoiding expressing their opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, and identifying and meeting their needs. As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations. Cannot be healthy for a relationship now can it?
It’s often apparent when someone communicates aggressively. You’ll hear it. You’ll see it. You may even feel it.
This style is emphasized by speaking in a loud and demanding voice, maintaining intense eye contact and dominating or controlling others by blaming, intimidating, criticizing, threatening or attacking them, among other traits.
Passive-aggressive communication style users appear passive on the surface, but within they may feel powerless or stuck, building up a resentment that leads to seething or acting out in subtle, indirect or secret ways.
Most passive-aggressive communicators will mutter to themselves rather than confront a person or issue. They have difficulty acknowledging their anger, use facial expressions that don’t correlate with how they feel and even deny there is a problem.
They are most likely to communicate with body language or a lack of open communication to their partner, such as giving someone the silent treatment, talking to family members or good friend negatively about their partner. They may also appear cooperative, but may silently be doing the opposite.
Ultimately, passive-aggressive communicators are aware of their needs, but at times struggle to voice them.
Usually, because of fear, we are afraid of the truth. Sometimes we are afraid of our feelings, our needs, of being abandoned or rejected. Our fear motivates us to hide and because of that, we often end up communicating things ineffectively, in a confusing manner, and sometimes falsely.
If we never get to the place where we are willing to not only confront our fear but also explore the roots of its existence in our life, we will continue to communicate in ways that are damaging to our relationships.
If you cannot see the value in yourself, how are you going to see the value in another? If you are not willing to communicate honestly with yourself then it is going to be difficult to communicate honestly with others.
There is one more style that I need to mention as this one is what we need to choose to have in making for a better relationship.
Thought to be the most effective form of communication, the assertive communication style features an open communication link while not being overbearing.
They can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. Assertive communicators aim for both sides to win in a situation, balancing one’s rights with the rights of others.
They can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others.
One of the keys to assertive communication is using “I” statements, such as “I feel frustrated when you are late for a meeting,” or, “I don’t like having to explain this over and over.” It indicates ownership of feelings and behaviours without blaming the other person.
Communication is the key
Choosing a different approach is not very easy. We can do our best out of sheer willpower to change the way we communicate, but if we don’t face the fears that motivate us in communicating healthily, we will fall right back into the old habit quickly and that can be frustrating.
Take the time to identify the reason for which you use the communication style that you frequently use. Ask yourself the question of why do you use that style?
What communication style do you use when you are hurt and or angry? It could be a learned behaviour, how your parents communicate, are you afraid of vocalizing your needs or you just want to avoid a conflict?
There are more questions to ask, but this blog is really about awareness. Explore the why behind your unhealthy communication styles and change how you communicate. This is not going to happen overnight, but with steady commitment, this work will have a lifetime impact on your relationship, your marriage and other relationships. It is worth the work.
Our relationship never made it but it taught me enough to be able to apply in my marriage. There is nothing more empowering to a relationship than being able to speak with the right tone and insight.