Life Change: How to communicate effectively your feelings?

Life Change: How to communicate effectively your feelings?

Christmas is a time when positive feelings cross with negative ones. Despite all these beautiful decorations, lights, and an overwhelming atmosphere of joy, it happens we end up sad, upset or resentful. Staying under one roof with your family for a longer period of time may become a flashpoint for unexpected explosions. Are you wondering how to maintain a peaceful ambiance without having to grit your teeth all the time?

People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.

John C. Maxwell

What’s the first thing you do when you want to communicate your feelings? Most probably, as it was the case for me for a long time, you start by:

  • Why are you always…?
  • Can’t you…at least once?
  • How many times do I have to tell you…?
  • I can’t understand why you cannot…
  • Will you ever…?

You focus your attention on someone’s behavior, not on your feelings which are related to a particular situation. By adopting a judgmental approach you believe it will help you to influence better someone’s behavior.

At first sight, it might seem that communicating effectively the feelings consists of sharing them in a straight forward way. If you hurt me, I’ll be blunt. I’ll tell you who you are behaving this way and I’ll find plenty of relevant adjectives to make you feel the way I did.

According to my experience: it never works. It doesn’t bring the expected result. It doesn’t change another person’s behavior. It leaves me with a feeling of huge frustration and a sense of not being understood. This kind of attitude triggers the aggressive mode pushing me and my opponent to defend our positions by all means. The agreement is rarely possible in such circumstances.

TheEmotionMachine.com says that communicating your feelings with the expectation that it should automatically change others is a counter-productive approach and often ends up with a disappointment. The key is to express the emotions in a constructive way that doesn’t add more fuel to the emotional fire.

What helped me to comprehend the difference between unsuccessful attempts to overflow painful feelings onto someone and to speak them out in a less hostile manner was to learn about 4 principles of Nonviolent Communication by Dr. Rosenberg.

1. Observation

Focus on the facts before you assign them a meaning or your interpretation. The reasons for people’s behaviors are not always so evident as it might seem. Give someone a chance to explain what happened or what drove him to act in such a way. Understanding the background of someone’s deed may calm down your emotions so that you don’t feel like being mean anymore.

How you can state the facts without assigning them a role they played in your life?

  • What happened yesterday is…
  • I’ve been waiting for an hour…
  • The number of my responsibilities increases…
  • We’ve been fighting a lot recently…
  • I haven’t been out with my friends since…

2. Feelings

Be honest about your feelings without evaluating others in response to them. Eventually, it’s you who decide what will hurt you and what will not. If you decide that something hurt you, it’s pointless to refer it personally to someone. It’s not people themselves who hurt us, but what they do, what they say, what they don’t do or what they don’t say. People’s actions don’t always reflect their intentions so judging them doesn’t solve the problem we struggle with.

How you can express negative feelings without blaming other people for them?

  • The way it made me feel was…
  • I feel frustrated when…
  • I feel upset because…
  • I’m getting worried about…
  • This kind of situation makes me feel…

3. Needs

All feelings are the expression of needs that are not fulfilled. Saying about feelings as separate from needs may make them sound irrelevant. People don’t always understand where do our feelings come from. They might treat them as a sign of our fad, whim or pipe dream. Linking our feelings to specific needs or to specific experiences give them a completely different tone.

How you can express the needs without making people responsible for fulfilling them for us?

  • I need to feel…
  • What matters for me is…
  • I wish I could…
  • I’d love to…
  • What works for me…

4. Requests

The key to the success of effective communication is to say about feelings and needs in terms of requests and not of demands. The requests don’t impose the change on other people, but they encourage this change. The requests make our expectations easier to understand and accept. They give a clear idea of what would improve the current situation without forcing one another to comply with it. Leaving space for taking appropriate steps is likely to result in mutual satisfaction.

Ask for a change in behavior only. This is a very important rule. Don’t expect your partner to change his or her values, attitudes, desires, motivations, or feelings. These characteristics are very hard to change. It’s like asking someone to be taller or more intelligent. People feel personally threatened if you ask them to change intangibles that are seen as part of their very nature and beyond their conscious control

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-communicate-your-needs-in-a-relationship/

How you can express the requests keeping the neutral connotations?

  • I would appreciate if…
  • I would really like to…
  • It would mean a lot to me if…
  • I’d like us to…
  • I want to be able to…

What really works for me in terms of effective communication is to associate the positives with someone’s behavior and the negatives with a specific situation that hurt me. When talking about positive things I try to use an active language while when talking about the negative things I prefer the passive one. This strategy helps me to avoid blaming people when something goes wrong and facilitates to empower them when something goes well.

What is your approach with regards to the effective communication of feelings? Do you have any good tactics to share?


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Thank you for being here,

Mimi,


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3 thoughts on “Life Change: How to communicate effectively your feelings?”

  • Great tips.
    My experience shows that no amount of word modulation will make a difference if you are talking to someone who is not ready to listen in the purest of ways. If someone is already agitated, no matter how you phrase things, they will still feel attacked. I think communicating effectively involves the right words, but it also needs to happen at the right place at the right time.

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