In relationships – intimate or otherwise – your single greatest weapon for success is communication. We have so much power in our hands with good communication, and we don’t even know it.
So many relationships end, or fade out, because communication sours or stops. Family members stop talking because of some ancient grudge from some relative’s wedding way back when. Marriages end because of issues that could have been worked out with clearer communication. Work relationships fail because we didn’t quiet mean to say what we said to our boss, and in our fiery impulsivity, leads to us getting fired.
We get in our own way when we communicate ineffectively. If we’re failing to state our needs and feelings, then we’re probably not getting what we want. If we’re not listening to what the other says, including when they have a problem with us, we’re ensuring a problematic conversation. If we’re not in touch with what we want, they others will have no clue about how to meet our needs.
For men, shutting down their anger is a universal issue every guy seems to deal with. Some guys explode; other guys stuff it in. Ineffectively dealing with anger is big time related to poor communication. A lot of guys are afraid of their own anger, or are afraid if they communicate it to the person they’re upset with, that person will reject them (e.g. their wife/girlfriend). Some guys are so busy people pleasing, that they would rather take care of other people’s needs instead of take care of their own. Over time, this builds up lots of anger, and it’ll come out in harmful ways.
The other thing on anger: it’s o.k. to be angry and communicate it. If you’re angry, it doesn’t mean you’re “that” guy, the jerk no one wants to be around. Being angry once doesn’t mean it becomes your identity. This is an important difference. Too many guys get afraid of being “that guy”, and stuff their anger further.
Here’s the skinny on what works and doesn’t work in good communication:
- Learning how to state your needs and feelings directly (first with yourself)
- Being open to your feelings
- Communicating your anger directly, not passively; don’t hold it in – it’ll corrode you
- Listen, and really hear what the other person is saying
- Get in touch with what you want from the person, and request it instead of demand it from them
And what doesn’t work?
- Criticizing others; they’ll shut down – guaranteed
- Judging others
- Acting superior to others
- Making demands upon others
- Using “always” and “never” with others
- Rehashing history with someone, and using it as ammo against them
- Passive-aggressive behavior (like saying “I’m not mad at you,” but acting mad at them in other ways)