We all want to be heard, and no one likes to feel as though they’ve been misinterpreted or misunderstood. However, even when we have the best of intentions, and we mean no harm, our delivery doesn’t come out the way we want it. Sometimes we don’t know how to be direct about our own needs, or we don’t know what they are. When you’re struggling with an incredibly sad, unpleasant time in your life, things can get confusing and frustrating.
Both listening and being heard becomes impossible, but you don’t have to go on like this forever.
Learn How to Listen Without Judgements
Whether you’re listening to someone else’s view on a specific situation or disagreement, or another person is trying to give you advice, try to take it all with a grain of salt. We may not always recognize it, but there are occasions in which we judge others based upon their actions or words, whereas we judge ourselves based on our intentions.
Advice from different people, especially when unsolicited, can be irritating when you feel like the individual giving it to you doesn’t understand your point of view or circumstances. However, they may merely be trying to reach out to you in the only way they know. Dealing with loss and hardship isn’t easy, but it’s just as difficult for the person who wants to be supportive and can’t find the right way to do it.
Do your best to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts, at least you know that they care and they’re trying.
Use “I” Statements
Someone who is an excellent communicator knows how to take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and responses. If you struggle with this, it’s also likely that you feel as though most people just don’t get you. They don’t understand where you’re coming from and they aren’t listening. While it’s possible that they really aren’t listening, the reality is that they probably are, they just can’t make out exactly what it is you need.
Help them out by using “I” statements; things like “I feel ___ when this happens.” Or, “I get frustrated by ___,” by doing this, you are taking full responsibility for your feelings. You aren’t blaming them on a person, or a specific situation because there is nothing that you or the person who is trying to console you can do about either of those things.
If you aren’t sure what it is you want or need at the moment, it’s fine to admit that you’re just feeling down in the dumps and you aren’t sure why.
Be Mindful of How You Speak to Yourself
Society, in general, preaches that we should be kind to others, but only recently have we really begun to practice self-love. Part of this could be due to the many times we were told weren’t smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, pretty enough, or social enough. Someone from your past, maybe a relative, let you know plenty of times that you just didn’t measure up to their standards.
Even when you know that what they’re saying isn’t true, when you hear the same lie enough times, you start to accept it as fact. Create affirmations or mantras that will allow you to chase away those unpleasant thoughts and feelings. When your mind says, “I can’t do this,” follow it up with “I am capable, confident, and courageous.” We all have doubts and fears from time to time, but we can’t let them take hold of our choices or willingness to act on our desires.
This comes in handy when dealing with conflict or disagreements in which you may be afraid to address the issue. Remember, you aren’t angry, annoyed, upset. You are calm, capable, courageous, and you can resolve this situation effectively.
Think Before You Speak
This is much easier said than done, and when we’re still emotional, we often say things we might regret. So, instead of continuing to try and communicate in an agitated mindset, ask for a little bit of time to collect your thoughts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with stepping away from a conversation or interaction if you feel like you aren’t able to effectively relay the message that you want to convey.
Now, this only works if you come back and deal with the issue promptly. Don’t wait too long or avoid it altogether, chip at it slowly if need be, but there’s no room for growth in life if you’re continually avoiding the hard stuff.
Finding better ways to communicate isn’t easy, and if you’ve grown up without that skill, it’s okay. We’re never too old or too smart to learn and evolve, and you can overcome any hand you’ve been dealt! Learning how to use your voice is hard, but as long as you use these four steps, it doesn’t have to be.