Communication: 3 Steps To Communicating How You Feel
Let’s reflect on problems you have had in the workplace. More than likely, the majority of these issues were due to communication errors. Whether that was because someone had their own agenda in mind and would not listen or information was not passed along effectively. Luckily, most of us can leave work at work and go home. But what happens when these same communication issues happen in your marriage or romantic relationships? According to Bowen’s Family Systems Theory a marriage can face issues such as a opposing spouses over or underfunctioning in the relationship. Or possibly an unspoken competition arises between partners to be in control of the relationship, the family or other everyday items. Maybe your partner could be highly critical resulting in you intentionally creating distance to avoid issues or further criticism. However, isolation can ensue if this is done. (The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, 2018). The issues in relationships do not stop there however, many of these issues can be resolved through open communication. If this can not be achieved on your own that is when professional help, such as myself can assist a couple facing difficulty.
There are 3 different types of communication: written, verbal and non-verbal. Each form requires a deliverer and a receiver. Tone, eye contact, body language, facial expressions, posture, space, and touch can be used to deliver and infer meaning in what is attempting to be communicated. The deliverer should be clear, honest and open when speaking to their partner. When receiving a message, one should listen, read and observe as much as they can to infer meaning with understanding. If the partnership is not able to properly deliver their thoughts, feelings or perceptions of the relationship one can easily misinterpret accumulate and intensify issues.
Now for some change and application! An intervention that can be utilized to foster better communication comes from the well known modality, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called, “I feel” statements. This exercise consists of 3 components to guide one to communicate their feelings into a statement as follows:
- I Feel _____ (emotion) _____
- when _____ (event) _____
- because _____ (thought about event) _____.
This is best utilized when the listener reflects the statement back to deliverer. For example, “I hear that you feel _____ (emotion) ____, when _____ (event) _____ because _____ (thought about event) _____.” The goal of repeating this back to the speaker is to make them feel heard and to validate their feelings. It is up to the couple to decide what to do next. If the either party would like to discuss this statement more they may ask for permission to expand the statement or ask questions. None of this can be done without agreeance from both parties to be honest, respectful and willing to use the “I Feel” statement formula.