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The Best Communication Startegies & Obstacles| 7.20.2021

In this episode, Kristen talks about obstacles to communication and how to handle difficult conversations.

You'll Learn

  • The basic structural elements of communication
  • Essential component of communication
  • Barriers to communication
  • How to have hard conversations
  • Self-reflection about communication


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This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Welcome to this week's Close the Chapter Podcast, I realize you have so many options and what you can do with your time. The fact that you're here with me willing to listen to this podcast says so much about you, and your willingness to grow, to think of things in different ways. And I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, it means so much that you're here with me, and you're willing to invest in yourself. So this week's episode is one that I wish they would teach in all high schools, how to communicate, we would have healthier relationships, we would be able to have more accountability take more responsibility for ourselves in how we're showing up in the world, we would have more insight and feel more empowered, and how to have hard conversations. And so if you're not sure how to communicate or approach, difficult subjects, you're gonna want to listen to this episode. And we're also going to talk about the obstacles, that sabotage communication, there's so many, this may be a multiple episode, we'll see if I can get through it all. It's one that I invite you to do self reflection on every episode is an invitation to go deeper within yourself and explore how do you function in relationships? How are you showing up? Sometimes the perception of ourself doesn't match up how you might be coming across, for example,

sometimes, in my family, they'll say, Mom, you're getting so intense. And I am convinced, in my own mind, I'm not intense. Like really, I don't feel intense at all. And there's an invitation for me to stop, pause. And this isn't easy, because I want to get defensive and try to explore Am I being intense? Is there an intensity in my body, this is an all the time this is feedback or constantly getting feedback. And we have to stop, pause and take a look at whether that feedback really fits. Or it's a projection of someone else's stuff that's put onto you. So the invitation today is grab pen and paper if you can, if you're in the middle of something, that's okay, you can go back and re listen to this episode. And really dive in and self reflect on how you communicate. And how did you learn to communicate. And if you want further help in terms of doing this deeper inner child work, the first step is to get the free journal that I offer. And this is what I do with every client, and you can reuse it over and over and over, you can get it at Kristen, K, R, i s t e, n d Boice, boice.com, forward slash free resources, and it will be emailed to you, you'll definitely want to grab that as part of the healing journey you're on. So let's get started in terms of looking at communication, because there's some foundational pieces that I wanted to cover. So you're taking a look at do you have the foundational pieces in place? If not, do you have a willingness to work on these pieces? So the first part we're going to do is I'm gonna have you do a little bit of self reflection. And this part you're exploring? What did you observe in how your parents whether they were married, divorced, you're raised by a single parent? How did they communicate with others that they cared about whether it was with you? Or their partner? So if they were married, how did you learn? And what did you witness about communication? Was it passive aggressive, where you're not directly saying how you really feel you're hinting at it? And you're saying, Whoa, would be nice if people would put their phones down? Instead of saying, I feel sad, because I would really like to connect with you. Would you be willing to put your phone down? Feel the difference? Instead of being passive aggressive and being very direct? Or was it aggressive, and demanding and controlling, and shaming? We know what that sounds like. So how did you observe people communicating? And maybe you didn't observe anything really any depth of anything in communication? And how has that played a role in your life, not to blame anybody but to go, oh, I don't communicate because I'm afraid of someone's reaction. And maybe you had that. As a child, you weren't allowed to share how you really felt? And if you did, someone got dysregulated angry, maybe they shut down maybe they shunned you and so you have learned to To shut that part of yourself down. And it's been maladaptive now in a romantic relationship and a friendship. So this is really to take a look at how and create a different pattern. So you can learn to communicate more effectively. So here's the three basic structural elements of communication. And I would say healthy, effective communication. The first element is when you're going to have a conversation. You need to talk directly to each other. So what does this mean at home, a couple needs to speak directly to one another, not going through the children, please don't do that.

Don't have the children speak for you. For example, when you say your father is so dis just upset and angry right now, don't you think? Why don't you tell your dad he needs to calm down. That's an example of what we do not want to do is speak through the children. That's not appropriate. That's not their job, they are in a few arrays that way, I really want you to hold some tender space for yourself. Because that wasn't your responsibility to communicate for your parent. For example, in my family system, my parents were divorced. And I've talked a lot about this on the podcast when I was in third grade. And my mom would ask my older sister to communicate with my dad about getting the support check. Instead of my mom communicating directly with my dad, she would have my sister asked my dad about where the support check was. And don't give me my mom a law the grace in the world and that parental FIDE my sister, what does that mean? That means she was put in an adult role, when that wasn't had nothing to do with her and created anxiety, and wasn't her responsibility. It triangulated into so it pulled my sister into a dynamic between my dad and my sister. That's an example of going through your children to give messages. And that's one, it switches the roles up, it makes the child the parent and it it creates fear and anxiety for the child. Or it can put the child into a caretaking protective role of a parent, and neither are healthy. So when you get into a couple's relationship, you might speak through your kids or speak through a friend, instead of going directly to your partner and sharing how you feel because that wasn't modeled for you. And guess what? You get to change that. That's the beauty of doing this work. You get the power to change all this? Is that hard work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. So that's the first thing. And as part of that, there should be I don't like the word should but recommended to turn off the TV, put down the phone and watch any distractions, because right now we have a lot of distractions, so TV off. And a lot of people that have trauma like TV in the background. And what I find is they like that sound. And some people are triggered by the sound depends on how, what your experience was, as a child, I recommend turning all of that off. So you have less distractions, including your phone. And this is tough, this is tough for people, I feel like the phone has kind of become the lobby, meaning like the security blanket, and creates anxiety when we don't have it. So I'm recommending no phones as a distraction. When you're having a hard conversation now you can't control whether the other person uses their phone you can ask so directly, I would really love it. If we could put our phones down, I'm willing to put my phone down would you be willing to put your phone down, so we don't have a lot of distractions.

And if you can also set boundaries for other people interrupting your conversation. So it might be your children, you might just say hey, we are going to have a conversation and for the next 15 minutes and we really would appreciate you if you don't interrupt, and then we will check back in with you after we've had our conversation to see if you might need anything. Number two. The second element is proximity and contact partners need to attempt to talk do need to be in the same room. So we don't want to attempt to yell from room to room. And this was notorious in my house. I mean my and this isn't to pick on my parents but this is to help make this relatable because without relatability this is going to be just had knowledge. So I wanted to give you some examples, personal examples. As we go through this, my mom would scream from the other room. And I find myself doing this at times, and I have to check it. Because I can get into that habit of yelling from another room, hey, can you bring me this or bring me that or I can't hear you, or instead of walking in the other room where the person is, so my mom will yell from upstairs and scream. And so that triggers me. If someone yells from another room, and I do it myself. So this isn't, I'm not exempt from this. I want you to know, this does not come from a righteous place this comes from, I'm in it with you place. And it's something to notice, if you start yelling from another room, please try to be in the same room. If you can, to have these conversations kind of facing each other, softly looking into each other's eyes, you're gonna have to really work on self soothing and self regulation. There's lots of episodes on that if you want to take a look at some of those episodes. Because it's not always easy. Because you're you're feeling anxious, you might be feeling afraid, you might be feeling angry or disgusted. And it's important that you're coming to the table as grounded as possible. So if you need to go outside, take a couple laps around the house, ground yourself and sit in the grass for a little bit. Take your deep breaths, journal it out, write it out in in your note section of your phone. So you have some clarity, because I'm going to give you some ways to communicate after this. But we've got to get these kind of foundational pieces into place. The third part is communication is a process and takes time. So don't expect a problem to be resolved five to 10 minutes because this is what we want. We want like drive thru resolution of things like super, like super fast, hit the button and we're done. I call it like the drive thru therapy, or Amazon Prime it you know what, it doesn't work like that. This is a process and a practice of changing unhealthy patterns. So please be patient. As I know, it's hard because we want results or want the discomfort that we feel to go away. And we're learning to lean into the discomfort, nurture ourselves through it and have a brief conversation. Here's the other thing I want to say I have couples practice doing emotional check ins on a regular basis. So at first we're going to do daily check ins and they're like, What am I like? How are you feeling is a question. And that's where we're going to use our core motions. There's another episode on that. And we're going to say how we feel. So we get more in the habit of connecting to how we feel where we feel it in the body and sharing that with her partner. And so are sharing that with your friend. So do some more at the beginning of this to practice do some check ins not only with yourself, but with each other. It's important consistency and repetition are important to successful learning of new communication skills. It's just the bottom line of it, you're learning new skills. So be patient with yourself. Let's start with the fundamentals of the essential components to communication.

Number one, we're going to start with if statements if you've listened to me for any point in time, I love love love love I statements. Why do I love I statements because I'm taking responsibility and ownership for my part in how I feel behave and show up. So I feel like you is not a nice statement. So want to say that upfront. Take that off the table. That is a thought and I really liked the I feel insert core motion because and share how you feel. Here's what I'm going to caution you against using an ice or using no I want you to use an if statement using a you statement. Please do not start off any sentence with you always or you never that will automatically cause people to get defensive. feel angry, feel attacked. So just eliminate that from your vocabulary. You blank you always you never you do this. You don't do that. Stop starting sentences with you. It's ineffective and will not get you to connection. Starting a sentence off with I feel sad and sad. scared because I want to connect with you. And I'm not sure how to go about that. That's a great I feel statement or I feel sad because I really want to spend time with you. And I would love to come up with options on how we can make that happen. So you're seeing, I'm not attacking anyone, I'm not accusing anyone, I'm owning my feelings, I'm coming from a very empowered place. Because I've already rumbled through, what do I feel, and I'm coming at it clearly indirectly. And not projecting that onto my partner, I'm not putting that onto my partner, it's not my partner's responsibility to manage my emotions, it's mine, I am clear, I feel empowered, because I know myself well enough to know, I've taken what I'm feeling, I taken the time to kind of sort through that. And the more you do this, the more you practice, the better. Now I will say one of the stumbling blocks is when you feel blamed or shamed or judged, and you want to protect yourself, you'll want to go into stronger language, have more intensity around it, perhaps you're getting dysregulated, and I've been there. So this is a universal part of being a human. Or you might be someone that just completely shuts down and freezes and doesn't say anything and loses your voice. And just kind of takes it and neither are effective ways to respond. So having said that, the II language is the empowering language, the I feel blank because of blank. So I'll give you several examples. Hopefully, you can utilize this right away with what we're talking, I feel not a thought, we're talking about a feeling. Number two, listening, the problem is not one of talking necessarily sometimes. But one of knowing how to really listen to understand listening more is more than sitting quietly nodding or saying every now and then listening means letting the sender know, this is key letting the sender who's sharing with, you know, what was heard and how the statement was received. The listeners responsibility is to reflect back the content context, and the effect meaning the emotion that was communicated. The content, which was actually what was said is the mean is the meaning that was extracted, while the an effect the emotion refers to what the person is feeling. Here's some examples. I heard you say you felt hurt, or sad, because of my comment regarding what you said to to your mother. So what I heard you say is, is how you're going to reflect back. And you're going to reflect back what I heard you say as you feel sad, because you want to spend more time with me, and you want us to come up with options on how we can make that happen? Did I get that? So you're checking in? Did you get it correct? Or did you misinterpret it? Or did you put it through your own lens?

And the purpose of reflecting is to really see if you're understanding what the person is really communicating. This is where we get off base, even in couples therapy, I'll have someone say, Okay, now we call it mirroring. They're like a mirror, you're looking in the mirror, what did you hear the person say? And it's something totally not at all what they said, because they're already doing their comeback of what they think they said, their written a story of what well, they said that, but what I think they really mean is this. And I said, I want to try it again. Let's do a redo. So I like a rewind, I call it a rewind, let's try it again. Say it in one sentence. I feel sad. Because I really want to spend more time with you. What are some of your ideas you have and how we can make that happen? So you said it a little differently, so the person might be able to hear it differently. And so when we're clear in our message, then it typically we can have it land better if we send a message and we go on and on and on and on. A lot of times people get flooded. And so you have to see if you can dense your message to one or two sentences, pause and see if the person understands what you're saying. So you can do a check in Does that make sense to you? Could you mirror back what you heard? Could you repeat back what you heard just so I make sure we make sure we're on the same page. Many couples think communication should be easy and problem free. And let me just say that is not the case. So oftentimes, couples will Get into blaming if someone doesn't get it right. And what I recommend is instead of getting into blame, say Can I try to say it again in a different way, and see if that makes more sense. Instead of getting in to blame and shaming each other because miscommunication happens all the time. And how we can help minimize miscommunication is paraphrasing, what you heard to see if you got it, because a lot of times, we think we got it, but we really didn't. And that's okay. Just try again. Instead of getting frustrated, if you do get frustrated, which we all do, just take a deep breath and try again. So that is important part of communication and then watching your nonverbals watching your facial expressions, your body language, your tone is also super important when you're communicating. Here's the other piece reflective listening is essential. If we're talking about couples getting trapped in what we call self summation syndrome, I didn't know about this until I researched this for the podcast, I didn't know there was a name for this. And it's important that we understand what that is the concept refers to each partner saying essentially the same statement over and over again, with increasing emotional intensity. Self summation is a misguided attempt to get the other person to understand repeating the same message does not create understanding, interrupting this destructive process by using reflective listening will change the interaction. Self summary, summarization usually occurs when a partner fails to respond in an appropriate way. But it may also occur when an individual has a fixed agenda. And one not consider negotiation of compromise. In this situation, the only voice the person hears is the one in his or her own head. So for example, if a partner has an agenda of proving the other partner wrong, all of the statements will be designed to prove their point. And so you're gonna have a hard time breaking through with that. So here's my point in this. Don't keep repeating the same thing. Try to say it in a different way in one or two sentences, and then ask, does that make sense? It doesn't mean they agree. It just does that make sense? And then ask them if they could repeat back what you said

to disrupt the process. Okay, the next key to this communication process is validation. To be validated means to be understood as a person. The opposite of validation is discounting. And discounting means being ignored, misunderstood or told that that one feels or said something that he or she did not say, or insert pronoun. So it's important that we don't dismiss or discount what someone says. Couples often confuse validation with agreement thinking that if they see the other person's point of view, they must agree with them. It is possible to validate another person without agreeing, this is one of the most important points I make with couples, and communication in general, you're not always going to agree and that's okay. If I can teach someone to just understand, even though they don't agree, that is so critical to create connection. So this is one of the key steps in communication is validating what someone else said, by making sure you understood what they said. And so it might say that makes sense. If it doesn't make sense to you, then that wouldn't be some a response, you would say another validating responses that's so hard. Or that makes sense you feel sad, or scared or angry. When a couple tries to skip the validation phase, then EBL inevitably end up arguing over the content and an effort to get validated. So they're gonna go back over the same thing they already said, to try to get that validation rather than maybe saying it in a different way. They assume agreement is the same as validation. Once again, confusing. These concepts can be lethal to communication, it kills communication. So validation does not mean agreement. It means understanding what you heard. Here's the other thing. That's important to know and communication. It takes time and energy and effort to communicate. People want it to be easy, breezy. It's not it's not easy, breezy. And when you go into a conversation and you're willing to listen bow Most parties are willing to listen, it changes the dynamic. Oftentimes there's one person willing to listen and another person isn't. At that point, it's okay to have boundaries. It's okay to have boundaries with boundaries, boundaries is what's okay and what's not okay with you. And maybe you need to put a pin in something, put a pin in that conversation, maybe it's a conversation that's just too dysregulated for both parties. And you can say something like, I wish this could be different. Maybe if we write out how we feel we could write each other a letter using I feel statements, and see if we can make progress that way. That's a secondary option, because sometimes it's too activating. And letter writing can be more effective.

Good communication takes intention. So maybe you're going to pray before you go into the conversation, you're going to meditate, you're going to do deep breathing, you're going to do some a walk, you're going to do yoga, you're going to journal before you get into the conversation. So you're grounded and centered. It's not always the case. If you're too dysregulated, own it, own it and say, I feel really dysregulated right now, can we circle back to this conversation, what I am in a more regulated place. And this isn't gonna be just smooth sailing conversations aren't always smooth sailing. They're fairly hard. And when you can stay regulated, that's 99.9% of the challenge that people have, and listening to understand because they want to get their thing out, or they think what the other person said is not true. They want to argue that and I invite people to get underneath the content and get into the emotion. And then we can do float backs about what is this bring up what is this feeling reminds you of from your past or your upbringing or your childhood? When you get a little more sophisticated in some of the foundations of the communication tools. Here's some obstacles that are sabotage you it's important to talk about the obstacles. So this isn't a surprise when it does happen. Effective communication doesn't just happen. It's a skill that has to be taught in a practical way. So here's, I'm gonna read there's four sabotaging principles that will be obstacle, the obstacles to communication number one, mind reading number two, personalization number three, distracting and number four is polarizing language. So we're going to quickly break these down. Mind reading refers to the idea that one really knows the part what the partner is thinking feeling. And without checking with them, they make assumptions about it. And they're so convinced it's true. In other words, a partner's assumptions is elevated to the level of reality. And they think they know exactly what the other one is thinking and feeling without checking it. Here's the key. I love staying sane. The story I've got going in my mind is that you really are disgusted with me and think I don't contribute. Do you think that, check it. If we can get out of the stories in our head and check the reality of it, it is liberation. Now you have to process the truth of what comes back out at you. Number two is personalization. And this concept pertains to attacking the person as well as the problem. The problem needs to be defined in terms of what the problem is not who the person is. So not attacking someone's character. This can get really unhealthy. So the two most common types of personalizations are labeling example you're stupid and generalizing. You never listen to me. So it's putting in on everything as opposed to just that that specific piece that you're having challenge with. Number three is distracting. There are two ways of distracting one involves leaving the theme of the discussion by bringing up past present and predicted future problems. So here's a rule I suggest that people adopt staying to one topic at a time. When you're having a hard conversation. Don't throw in the whole kitchen sink please. It's too activating. It's too triggering. And it gets you on a road to nowhere. Here's the other piece is attack with a counter attack. You never take out the trash. Well. You never emptied the dishwasher. I mean attack, Counter Attack, attack, counter attack that just goes down a road defensiveness. Number three polarizing language, certain concepts in our language only serve to polarize people. These include right versus wrong, always a never truth versus lie. language that is black or white can be eliminated. A simple rule is to stick with the I feel statements. I feel sad because, or I feel because so you're gonna want to use things like, you can also access. In my opinion, I've been conditioned, I've been up, I've been taught to believe my perception, my experience is, these are a little more disarming, but I feel statements are the way to go.

So there's so much more to be said about this. But I think this gives you a high level of kind of indicators on how to have hard conversations. And know when you need to exit the conversation, if it's too. If there's verbal abuse, or emotional abuse or any physical violence, it's time to exit the conversation. And that's healthy, and okay. My encouragement to you is to practice out loud, what you want to say, before you say it if you need help with having a voice, write it out. Sometimes we need to send written communication a letter. I know I alluded to that earlier, instead of a verbal conversation, because it's not safe. And that's okay, too. So I hope this was helpful. And you got some foundational structure, some principles on how to go about having a conversation and then things that and obstacles to not do and say, there's so much more to be said about this conversation. But I would love your feedback. Feel free to tag me on Instagram at Kristen D Boice. And Facebook and then on tick tock, it's Kristen Boice. And I don't know what I'm doing on tick tock, so just bear with me. I'm just learning the ropes there. So thank you for your rating and reviewing the podcast. I read every single one of them and I am so grateful for you. So thank you, and I look forward to being with you again next week. Have a good week.