We hear it all the time: “the key to successful relationships is communication.”
But, while easy to repeat that mantra, it’s a LOT harder to actually say the HARD STUFF. We can all talk about communication, but when it’s truly needed, can we actually communicate the difficult and ugly stuff?
I, for one, was a MESS in communication.
I used withhold my feelings, which led to me withholding my love (because I felt like the other person should be reading my mind), which led to the other person feeling my distance….which led to an awkward 24-48 hours until it blew over.
THAT was my “successful” strategy for communication: become really quiet and bank on the other person to come to me to make it all better. Well, needless to say, that didn’t work so well, and I had to learn that lesson the hard way, repeatedly.
Fast forward to my current communication reality, where I’m able to express not only the hard stuff, but the beautiful stuff too. I can share, with full expression, my love and gratitude for someone (my FAVORITE type of communication) and I can (begrudgingly) share when things aren’t so hot; even though my stomach still turns in knots before, during and after I do this.
So what’s the deal? How can we make saying the hard stuff…a little easier? Well, I’ve found 3 ways that have worked wonders for me:
1. Space is your friend.
You don’t need too much (yes…I’m talking to all of you lone wolf’s out there!), but you do need to give yourself at least 10 minutes of time alone, in a quiet, private place where you can reflect on what’s really going on. Get underneath all of the hurt, or bruised ego, and ask yourself what is at the bottom of all of the surface emotions.
What can you share with the other person that feels deeply authentic and personal? When you can come from your truest place, the other person will appreciate your level of vulnerability and honesty, and reciprocate accordingly.
2. “Oreo Cookie” that sucker.
Donald Trump once used my favorite, delectable cookies as a metaphor in handling tough business situations when he (loosely) said: “start with something amazing or positive, slide the negative or not so pretty stuff in the middle, and end with another positive note.” This little nugget of cookie wisdom is a good one.
If you have something a little harder to say, be sure to book end it with some awesome, positive stuff. Example: “I love you so much and I love how much care you take in how you treat me, so I wanted to bring something up that felt a little off to me. I know you probably didn’t mean it, so I want to find the best way to clean it up so we can get back to being great.”
3. Always come from a place of love.
Check yourself, before your wreck yourself. WORD. Seriously though, make sure you’re not coming from a place of hostility, insecurity, jealousy, anger or blame; but rather, coming from a place of your highest love for the other person involved, your wanting to work things out, and compassion for what they may be feeling.
When you get out of the “ME” sphere and operate from the “WE” sphere…you’re already winning because you’re including the other person. They’ll feel seen, heard, and be WAY more willing to work (peacefully) with you on finding a solution.