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How To Communicate Feelings Effectively And Get The Responses You Want

 

Sharing feelings, whether with a partner, friend, or family member is an important part of communication and also an important part of your relationship as a whole. When you share feelings, you will see a chain reaction. Sharing feelings (both positive and negative) in a productive way allows people to be more open with each other. This builds trust, both will feel comfortable sharing more, which leads a tighter bond and a stronger relationship.

Communicating your feelings allows you to inform the other person of something he or she may have said or done and how it made you feel. If it was something that affected you negatively, it allows the person to understand his effect on you and try to do things differently next time.

And if it affected you in a positive way, he needs to hear that too! Knowing what makes you feel good (remember, nobody can read your mind – good or bad) reinforces that other person’s behavior, makes him feel good about himself, and increases the likelihood he will do it again in the future.

Communicate your feelings in a productive way

Be specific

Rather than saying you are upset, try to make a clear indication of your concise feeling. Are you irritated? Hurt? Saddened? Also, be concise. When you are trying to explain a feeling, don’t bring other issues into the discussion. Don’t digress into related stories or issues.

Another part of being specific about your feeling is stating the degree of your feeling. Some people make the mistake of overstating a feeling. They may feel they need to exaggerate in order to be heard. Others may understate their feelings because they worry how they are perceived or don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Both are counterproductive.

Be honest and upfront, and stand up for yourself! Tell her whether you are extremely angry or a little irritated.

State the behavior and then the resulting feeling

If you start by stating the feeling first (“I’m angry because you…”), it may make the listener feel defensive. When this happens, she might miss your whole message just because she already put her guard up.


Make an effort not to blame the other person. If you can just state everything as fact, she is much more likely to hear you. Use the formula, “When you (her action), I feel (your emotion).” Or even, “When (incident happened), I felt (emotion).” Make sure when you talk about the emotion, you use “I”. Don’t say, “I felt you disrespected me when you …” This is about YOUR feeling, so tell her how you feel.

Offer an alternative

After you tell someone about their action and your resulting feeling, it is helpful to offer alternatives. Tell him what you need. That doesn’t mean he has to do it, but it’s also possible that he had no idea what a difference a small change could make.

For instance, if you say, “I get a little resentful when you leave me with all the clean-up after dinner.” Follow that up with a specific suggestion, particularly one you think he might be amenable to. “It would really help if you would clear the table while I put away the leftovers.” Maybe your first statement leaves him thinking you want him to help with all the after-dinner chores, when all you want is for do a little. By telling him what he can do to change your negative emotion, you are giving him an easy guide to resolve the problem.

Hear the response

This is just as important as sharing your feeling. When you are talking about your feelings, it is not meant to be a one-sided monologue where the other person just has to listen, and then the conversation is over. If you really hear her response, you can gain clues as to how you can avoid the problem in the future.

Using the example above, maybe he’s just worn out after dinner and needs some time to decompress. If you say you resent being left with all the work, and he responds with, “Well I’m tired too!” that’s your clue about how to make it work. If you really think about what he is trying to tell you, you just might find your solution. Suggesting you wait a while after dinner is over, and then asking him for specific help just might resolve everything. Hear where he’s coming from, and look there for your answer.

Techniques to keep in mind

Your tone matters

If you want to be effective when you communicate about your feelings, it’s important to be calm. This is not a time for venting, and yelling is certainly counterproductive. The more you can make your statements in a matter-of-fact tone, the more likely it is that the other person will hear you.

It’s also important that you don’t accuse or be critical. Sometimes it’s easy to attack the other person, especially if you feel hurt, but the end result is that the person is less likely to hear you if she feels she is being ambushed.

If possible, start your conversation with something positive. You can say, “I’m really glad you work so hard to support our family” before you start the conversation about how you feel when you’re left with the evening chores. Starting with something positive puts the other person at ease. It lets him know you’re not just making accusations, but that you value him and want to make things better.

Keep trying

Just because you tell someone she did something that affected you negatively, doesn’t mean she will change overnight. Any behavior change always takes time and repetition to make it a habit. Try not to take it personally if you don’t immediately see the change you had hoped for. You can just go back to the first step and have a similar conversation. She might just need to be reminded, or she might just be having a hard time breaking a habit. But if you both keep working on it in a positive way, you will start to see some progress.

Practice your new technique

In order to use this communication technique, you might need to practice it a little. Your first step is paying attention to your feelings. If you are mad or upset about something, think about the event that caused it. Plug it into the format of “(Event) happened, and I feel (Emotion).” When you can, communicate that to the person involved. Keep calm, and suggest an alternative to make things better. Hear her response, and work with what she says.

You can use this technique for both positive and negative feelings. When you are still getting used to it, it might be helpful to use it as often as possible for positive feelings. That gets you into practice for using the technique regularly, and you simultaneously boost the people around you. Once you are adept at using it to communicate all sorts of feelings, don’t forget to us it for good too!

Lastly, I want to remind you how critical it is that you communicate your feelings, and that you do it often. If you feel like you need to talk about your feelings, do it soon – for two reasons. It really is easier for everyone to remember the events in questions when you discuss it soon after it happened. Talking about your emotions earlier also helps keep resentment from building.
Do you have any tips for communicating with your friends and family? What works for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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3 Powerful Tips For Becoming A Good Listener – Even When You Disagree!

 

You’ve heard it many times before – communication is the lifeblood of a strong relationship. Not only should you be able to talk with your partner about your feelings, but it’s also important to be a good listener.

Listening is an important skill because you want your partner to feel that he can talk to you, and that you will really hear him. If he doesn’t, he’s likely to find someone else who will – his buddy or workout partner or mom. This won’t build the strength of your relationship, and it won’t help the two of you grow your bond together.

This is true in all relationships, not just with your spouse or significant other. The more your friends, children, siblings, and others feel you really hear them when they talk, the more likely they are to come to you when they need help – whether it’s an issue between the two of you or even just something the person needs help with in her daily life. And the more that happens, the better your bond with that person will be.

So what does it take to be a good listener? And how can you communicate to people that you are hearing them?

Pay Attention – There are lots of ways to show a person you are paying attention when they are talking. Maintaining fairly steady eye contact is an important (and easy) one. Of course, you don’t want to be staring at them to the point of making them uncomfortable, but at the same time, make sure you aren’t looking around the room, looking at other people, or glancing at your phone when a person is talking. Maintain enough eye contact to make it clear to the other person that they have your undivided attention.

Paying attention also means not interrupting. Anytime you interrupt a person when she is talking, you run the risk that she will lose her train of thought or respond to your interruption in a way that derails the point she is trying to make. It also communicates to her that what you have to say is more important than what she has to say, which is not the case if you want her to feel heard. If questions or comments come up in your head while she is talking, don’t interject. Instead, wait until she is done and then chime in.

The third part of paying attention shows in the expression on your face. If a person is telling a sad story, that should be reflected with a sympathetic look from you. A happy story should evoke a smile from you. There’s no need to fake an emotion or otherwise react in a way that isn’t expected, but if you are paying attention and really listening to the story, it would show when the talker is looking at you. Let her see how engaged you are, and she will likely open up more.

Reflect Back What You’re Hearing – When you use words like, “So you think ___” or “What you’re saying is ___,” you are reflecting (or mirroring) back what the speaker is saying. This has a few advantages.

First, it lets the speaker know you are paying attention and trying to understand.

Second, it allows the speaker to clarify his point if he doesn’t think you understand or if he feels the need to put a finer point on what he is saying.

Third (and most importantly) when you reflect back to the person who is talking, it often helps that person dig deeper into his own feelings. Take a look at this example:

Kelly: Ugh, what a long Monday!
Jeff: Bad day?
Kelly: The boss was on my case all day.
Jeff: Was he breathing down your neck a lot?
Kelly: Yes, and it just makes me take longer to finish my work because it makes me nervous.
Jeff: Sounds like the more he crowds you, the more your anxiety goes up.
Kelly: Yes! Exactly! And then it takes longer to get everything done, and we all get frustrated!

See how Jeff simply mirrored back each thing Kelly said, but just with different words? The more he did that, the more he communicated that he “got” what she was saying. And when he got it, it allowed Kelly to keep digging to really express what was going on. In the end, she feels better for venting, and she feels like Jeff really heard her. In the future, she’s likely to open up to him again because she walked away feeling acknowledged and validated.

Keep in mind that mirroring what a person says does not mean you agree with them. It just means that you heard them. Use the reflecting technique even when you don’t agree with someone. The point is that you want the speaker to feel like he was heard, and that you listened. If you feel strongly about expressing why you don’t agree with him, do so only after you have sufficiently (several times) mirrored back what he said, so you can be sure he felt heard, and you can also feel sure you understand his point of view.

Listen Without Formulating a Response – When someone is telling you something, it’s easy for your mind to go to a lot of different places. You might judge the person for what she’s saying, you might already start thinking of solutions to the problem she’s discussing, or you might even think about why what she is saying is wrong. Try your best not to do any of these things, because if you are, you aren’t truly listening.

Instead of forming an opinion or devising a solution, make a conscious effort to instead put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. Try to feel what she is feeling. She is talking to you for a reason. She wants you to see her point of view or understand her feelings or convince you of an opinion.

To be a good listener, you have to see where she is coming from. Instead of thinking about what you are going to say next, or instead of waiting for her to stop just so you can say what’s on your mind, really listen without formulating a response. Listen empathetically, get a good understanding of what she’s saying and feeling, and then reflect that back to her.

Remember, good communication makes a strong foundation for a relationship, and listening skills are a big part of that. Even more, when a person knows that his partner will really listen objectively, it makes him more likely to open up – and to be honest when he does. Be attentive and give your partner, kids, and friends your time and your open mind. You will see your relationships reach new levels, and your bonds will be stronger.

Do you consider yourself to be a good listener? Are there things you could do differently to better communicate that you’re really hearing the person who is talking? What do you do to show your favorite people that they are being heard by you? Please share it in the comments! I look forward to hearing from you!

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