Monday, February 13, 2012

Keys to communication

"Could you also go ahead and tell us how exactly do we talk about our concerns without sounding overly possessive or bitchy? That would help."

That's the comment that a reader left for me on a post about communication, and drawing the line. Specifically, I was saying that couples should be able to share concerns without accusing or giving orders.

Great, GGS  - you've said what to do. Now what about the how?  Fair question.

I touched on it a bit in that post. "Tell him...and by tell him, I don't mean accuse or order him.... You shouldn't tell him what he can and can't do; he shouldn't tell you what you can and can't say."

Let's take the example from another post I did, also about communication. To sum it up, I found a post from another woman on Trooper's facebook timeline. I was upset, and wanted to say something, but wasn't sure what, or how.

I ended up waiting - and I did eventually say something. But I successfully managed to say it without starting a fight, or coming across as being "that girl."

Wait. It seems, at least for me, that I react more strongly at first, and then after I've had a chance to process the information, I calm down. If I'm angry and I say something right away, it's so raw, I usually end up overreacting. By waiting, I give myself the chance to decide if it's really worth saying anything at all, and if it is, I've usually calmed down enough to discuss, rather than argue.

Admit your part. When I finally did ask Trooper about the woman's post, I started by saying to him, "So I was facebook stalking you the other day..." I suppose some people would say not to do that because it opens you up to criticism. But I say the best defense is a good offense. By putting it out there, you take away his ability to put it back on you. You're saying, "Yeah, I did something wrong - but look what I found."

Talk, don't write. I was home alone when I found the post. If I wanted to say something to Trooper right away, it would have to be over the phone or in a text. In my experience, though, these are the sort of conversations you want to have in person. When you're asking a question, body language is key, and you can't read facial expressions over the phone, or tone in a text. Plus, if you have stumbled upon a larger issue, you don't want it to be easy for him to disconnect or ignore.

Besides, waiting til you can talk in person helps with rule number one - waiting. It also shows him that you're serious, and you respect him enough to say something in person. Anybody can be brave over text - it takes a real woman to speak her mind face to face.

Don't accuse. Never assume you know what's going on. Whether you found a suspicious text or email or facebook post, or whatever, you only have a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Tell him what you found - then be quiet. Most people prefer to fill a silence - especially a guilty person. If he has a simple, reasonable explanation, he'll surely offer it up. If not, or if he turns things around and jumps on you for "accusing" then you know something is up.

Don't be afraid of your feelings. Just because you don't have the right to accuse doesn't mean you don't have the right to care. Does texting his ex-girlfriend bother you? Do you object to him going to a strip club? Whatever it is, it's OK to tell him how you feel - but it's not OK to tell him what to do. "It bothers me that you're texting her," is not the same as "I don't want you texting her anymore." You're entitled to your feelings - and you deserve someone who will respect them. But you can't order someone to care about you.

Trust your instincts. If you've waited it out, and decided you're still upset - it's worth saying something. There really is something to a woman's intuition. If you've waited, and owned your part, and asked without accusing - and things still feel off - they probably are.

I'm no expert, and I've made my fair share of mistakes - including breaking every one of these guidelines. That's why I know that while nothing is perfect when it comes to communication. But there are certain keys to better communication - which is all anyone really needs.


  1. Step by Step Instructions...

    Do you have kids... I need a manual for them too!

  2. That is actually really helpful, and very plain and simply laid out. :}