Ask yourself about your difficulty
Who are you struggling to communicate with?
What is the difficult issue needing to be addressed?
Further Exploration & Reflection
Spend some time journaling while you are reflecting on your communication dilemma. Reflect on what it is that makes it hard for you to communicate this issue with the person you identified above.
Reflect, write, and examine the following in your writing:
Are you trying to avoid burdening the other person or worried about hurting their feelings?
Do you worry they will see you as being critical or needy?
Are you attempting to avoid conflict or are you concerned about being dismissed?
What else are you mulling over? Get all your thoughts and feelings out about this person and this situation out on paper. Leaving it in your head often leads to sleep loss. Spend time exploring if there are ways to communicate your worries above to the person that you are hoping won’t dismiss or avoid you, see you as needy and they understand your intent is to not burden or worry them? Or are your worries unrealistic anxieties? How can you overcome unrealistic worry in your relationship? Write and write some more.
Next, I encourage you to explore your desired outcomes for when you are communicating with the person you are struggling with.
Possible outcomes to consider include:
- I want to be understood/truly heard
- I want to feel loved, close to the person, accepted
- I want my feelings to be considered and validated
- How can I maximize my chances in getting the outcomes I desire?
Past Communication Patterns
Often we think we can predicate how a person is gong to respond to us based on past interactions. Let’s take a moment to examine past communications. Has the person responded in ways that weren’t supportive to you in the past? What did they say or do that you found unhelpful? Did you notice them changing the subject, or did they give you terrible advice? Did they seem uncomfortable or where they critical? Where they closed lip, overprotective, or was there something else going on? What are your ideas on how you could address your concerns about their PAST responses?
Time to get clear of the type of support you need in your communication. It doesn’t make sense to expect others to communicate with us in a specific way if we aren’t clear what we want for ourselves. There are four types of support. Which types are you specifically seeking regarding the current issue you have with this person?
Informational support - seeking knowledge or information
Tangible support - needing help with a chore, errands, or assistance due to your own physical limitations (i.e. you broke your leg and need the lawn mown)
Emotional support - validating your fears, worries, and are empathic with what issues you are currently facing
Self-esteem support - helping you feel better about yourself when you are struggling with your worth.
How can you communicate this need to the person to increase your chances of getting the type of support you need?
In what way(s) have you sought support from this person on this difficult issue in the past? What ways are most common for you to seek support?
- The best way to communicate is to be verbally direct by being clear that you are asking for help and being specific with the type of help you are requesting.
- Being verbally indirect means you are hinting around for help but it is not clear. It is when you expect someone to read your clues or guess what you need or want. This doesn’t tend to be effective.
- The LEAST effective communication in terms of getting what you want, is non-verbal communication. If you tend to rely on this type of communication, you will likely end up feeling ignored, hurt, and resentful.
One Last Reflective Practice
Before you make your communication plan. Please take a moment to reflect over the questions posed in this post and give consideration to the reasons you have been seeking help or communicating in the ways you selected - why do you think you seek support in this fashion? Do you think your way has been effective, why or why not? Picture yourself communicating in a different way, is this realistic? Are you willing to try?
Write out your specific plan on what you will try differently to overcome your past communication block with your selected person. Then try it out. You may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. How do I know? I have completed this exercise with many clients over the year. They have found when they switch up how they communicate and become curious on how to express their needs in a way the other party clearly understands. If you need further help, consider consulting with me.