We all love talking to people that get us. People that really listen to us, understand where we come from, laugh with us, cry with us, and just make us better people.
What we don't like is when the people we once trusted, once loved, turn their backs on us. We feel like we just can't communicate with them anymore, we can no longer relate to them. Every little conversation turns into an argument and as a result, we no longer want to be around these people anymore.
Are you in a situation like this? Where you have people in your life that you desire to be in a loving relationship with, and yet, you feel like this person is always against you.
But, I want you to be honest with yourself first. Do you have a role in 'fueling the fire?'
Not many of us like to evaluate the way we talk to others. We all would like to think we are great communicators, that it is the other party's fault for not getting us. While that can be true, I think we can all admit that we play a role in the way others respond to us.
When we get into arguments with people, we don’t really take the time to hear what they are really trying to say behind all of their words, tones, and comments. Instead, we like to retaliate with our own frustrated, angry, and hurtful remarks. This sparks contention, and unless the fire is extinguished, the flames will only continue to burn and sever the relationship ties we once had with our loved ones.
I’ve learned from past experience that while it is futile to try and change other people, we can't give up on them, and we can't give up on ourselves. We can take steps to improve the way we communicate with the people we are in relationships with. As we change the way we communicate with others, we are putting out the fire instead of fueling it.
Here are 10 important ways you can improve the way you communicate with your loved ones:
- Don’t be quick to criticize.
- Enter every conversation with humility knowing that you don’t know how that person feels, and you’re coming to hear them out. Why even bother talking someone if you’re only trying to say your own point? Communication starts with listening.
- Choose to use words that lift that person up instead of putting them down. Don't use conversations as a way of tearing someone down, even if you’re upset and hurt by them.
- Don’t repeat information. If you feel like someone isn’t getting what you’re saying, it won’t help by being repetitive. When you do, you're just giving them the excuse you to mentally shut you out. Instead of repeating yourself, try asking them questions about what they are feeling or thinking about what you are trying to get across.
- While the other person is talking to you, don't try to be defensive. If you spend all of your energy being defensive, you won't really be listening to the other person. All you will be doing is thinking about how to respond to them instead of being present and actively listening.
- Make the conscious effort to turn towards the person instead of turning away. The more you try running away from the problem, the worse it becomes.
- Seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood. Come into conversations with true genuineness. Look past their faults, because truth be told, you have faults too. You are there to talk because you love that person and you want to your relationship with them to heal.
- Don’t treat conversations like a competition. You are not here to win an argument, and even if you do 'win' the argument, you've just burned an important bridge in your relationship that can cost you your relationship with that person.
- Don't try to rush through conversations. Good things take time. When you are in a rush, you are not giving yourself the space and time to be vulnerable. If you cannot be vulnerable about how you feel first, then how can the other person be vulnerable with you? Vulnerability brings people together, so please carve out a space and time where you and the other party can be vulnerable with each other. Be the first person to step out in vulnerability.
- People don’t care about what you know - they want to know how much you care. Are you showing you care for that person with both your words and actions? Remember, you need both to sustain a healthy relationship.
It is not always going to be easy to do all of the above, but I can assure you that if you make small changes now, it gets easier. You'll start becoming a person that people will love to be around. Your words can be empowered to serve a very special purpose - by building up the people up around you.