This week we are sharing our own top 3 communication mistakes we see people make that destroy their relationships. When you spend several hours a week listening to couples struggle with communication, you learn a lot of what NOT to do. These are 3 that I see very routinely. The good news is, once people are able to see themselves do them, they are able to change their communication and make a lasting impact on their relationships.
Flooding happens when a person shares too much information at once with the other person and the person literally feels "flooded" emotionally by all the information. They have so much input going in that they cannot process all the information or the emotions they are having with it. I will often see clients start to get angry or upset because they don't even know where to start with what someone is sharing. Then they want to give up on the conversation.
When you are feeling flooded, simply ask the person if they could slow down and allow you to process one thing at a time. Let them know what they are saying is important but you are struggling to hear it all because it's so much. This is a good time to take a deep breath (or a time out as we will discuss in a minute.)
If you notice your partner saying things like, "I don't even know what we are talking about anymore!" or "Can I have a second to talk? You're not even letting me respond!" they may be feeling flooded. That's a good time to take out a small piece of paper and write down the topics you are trying to discuss so you don't forget them. Then start with one topic at a time.
2. Not taking time outs
Many people see a time out as a negative thing. This originates to us giving our children "time outs" for negative behavior. But time outs are actually positive. We teach them to our kids so they can regroup and reset their mind. We are giving them a break from their negative behavior so they can start over with something more positive.
This is an excellent example for us in relationships. When you feel yourself getting very angry, upset. or even beginning to have irrational thoughts (you know, the ones when you're in your "right mind" you would never say!) simply take some time to regroup or reset your mind.
Brain scans show when we are angry or getting very emotional certain areas of our brain light up. Those areas are the ones that contain irrational thoughts. Just a simple 30 minute cool down period can bring those lighted areas back to peace and calm. Then we can make more rational decisions.
So when things are heated, take a time out! And if the person you are arguing with requests a time out, for goodness sake grant them it.
3. Not knowing when to shut up!
Hmmm....these are all tying together aren't they? Flooding someone with too much information....taking a time out. Truly sometimes we just need to know when to close our mouths. When we are in an argument or trying to prove a point, we have a hard time not saying everything that comes to our mind. However, when I ask couples what they really want they say, "To get along". I wonder how much better they could get a long if they put a filter on some of the thoughts they are having when they are fighting. It really does make a difference.
So slow down and think before you speak. And sometimes just shut up!
Thank you all for reading today. Friday Joleen will give us her top three mistakes she sees. Have a great day!
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.