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Communication Skills, or Roger Roger, What's Your Vector Victor?

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A common point of soreness in relationships is, “they don’t listen” and “I don’t feel heard”. Without clear, open, honest communication a thriving relationship is hard to have. The differing ways people communicate has led to such ideas that some are just from entire different planets. Fortunately, there are ways to bridge the gaps in our stars.


4 Parts of Communication

However you feel about the military, Air Force JROTC did me a solid by having me attend summer officer schools offering classes which laid the foundation of my life… one of them being communicating. The military idea of getting clear ideas across garbled, interfered, and coded lines under stress is hard enough, let alone with two or more people that just aren’t good at getting ideas out. I was taught there’s 4 Parts of Communication:

  • What I Think. If needed, write a few thoughts out on paper before an important conversation
  • What I Said. Words matter. Here in the Lone Star we know the difference between “y’all” and “all y’all”, one can’t always expect universal understanding though. Be willing to restate something if it doesn’t seem like it landed right.
  • What They Hear. If I said “excuse me while I kiss the sky” and you heard “excuse me while I kiss this guy” you might be confused and someone my wait too long for a kiss that’s not coming. If you feel confused, ask for some help.
  • How They Interpret What They Hear. Ostensibly, the person you are talking to is someone you care about and what’s the best for the both of you. Summarize what you understand them to be saying while being willing to be corrected until you both agree


Love Languages

If you haven’t heard of love languages I respect your healthy online / offline internet boundary setting. Essentially, you take a quiz and find out which of 5 love languages you likely speak and hear the most. Caveat, these are not written in stone. Like the Myers-Briggs Personality Sorter, the Hogwarts Sorting Hat of the 1980s, the problem is how ever changing, growing, and moody people are. These are good insights into how you are at the moment, how others may be around you, and to highlight mindfulness in the differing ways people express and look for love. Here they are:

  • Acts of Service. “Love, could I beg you for a glass of water?” or “Hey honey, I put toothpaste on your toothbrush”.
  • Gift Giving. Gifts are not about the money spent on them usually, they are mementos and symbols of being thought of and cared about even when someone isn’t around.
  • Physical Touch. Hugs, kisses, hand holding, cuddling… adult times.
  • Quality Time. Time spent enjoying a movie, walk, or together quietly in each other’s presence.
  • Words of Affirmation. Direct communication of what / that one appreciates another.  “You are beautiful, inside and out.”

Knowing how to translate and better hear that acts of love around you can make life richer.

Challenges and Solutions in Communicating

The Gottman Institute recognizes 4 super bad habits for relationships, and fortunately an antidote for each.

  • Criticism. When people criticize others it shows a lack of respect, care for, or fear of others. Whom they talk to will often not come back with open, honest, or hopeful communication. Use a gentle start up, “I Statements”. When [situation], I feel [feeling word], I need [positive action], and I would greatly appreciate it.
  • Defensiveness. I feel attacked. That’s fair, you’re allowed to feel attacked. The recommended antidote is to listen for what areas you might be responsible for and make a sincere apology. Caveat, if you’re always apologizing you might be suffering abuse… seek help and support.
    • Apologies have 4 parts! Here they are real quick:
      • Damage Assessment. Taking an inventory of what negatively affects there are for yourself and others.
      • Identify what you did wrong from the damage assessment.
      • Give insight for yourself and others the motivations supporting what led to your part.
      • Create a plan to do better.
  • Contempt. Often expressed as verbal abuse and / or regrettable moments. The fix is appreciation, taking time to specifically remember what you like about your partner(s), your relationship(s), and yourself.
  • Stonewalling, aka the Silent Treatment.  I feel attacked and I’m going to defend myself, or I realize this fight is going to happen and it’s not worth it (in a bad way not worth it).  Hug how you feel and let the other person(s) know, “I feel attacked. I need [positive action]”. Usually some time to cool down, at least 25 to 30 minutes and up to a day, are most helpful (there’s a whole physical reason why, we’ll go into that next week!)

These same skills are useful in scene negotiation.

G.I. Joe says knowing is half the battle, the other half arguably is action. Even when people know better, what people often do is their habits. If you or someone  you know could use some help internalizing better communication skills, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation.