I Thought I Was Being Clear: 5 Steps to Better Communication

I Thought I Was Being Clear: 5 Steps to Better Communication
by Starcat

One of Quester’s favorite sayings is “if you want to see how clearly you’re communicating, take a look at the results.” During the recent Mercury retrograde (with still another week until it goes direct), I’ve noticed that even when I think I’m being clear with my words, the message can be garbled. This is particularly true in intimate relationships, when you know someone well and thus tend to make assumptions about their understanding of your meaning. These are the people who “get” you best of all, right?

The results can be humorous, like me trying to talk up all the options for dessert, when Quester has already said he doesn’t want anything more. But they can also be less amusing, when casual remarks taken the wrong way leave one partner feeling criticized or devalued. Luckily, there are some simple and effective ways to be sure you’re communicating clearly. Here are a few to try:

  • Be open about your feelings. Sometimes the words we’re saying don’t convey the full depth of our meaning. Rather than hoping the message came across, be specific. Tell your partner, “I’m feeling kind of sad and vulnerable today, so I’d appreciate it if you don’t tease me.” They may have been trying to be playful, so let them know that the timing isn’t right, so they’ll understand why you’re not smiling and joining the bantering.
  • Ask for what you want. This is a big one for me. I’d much rather have someone notice I’m overwhelmed by housework and simply step in to help. But it’s not fair to expect others to read your mind, especially when these are tasks you normally handle with grace. “Could you please do the dishes tonight?” is pretty clear and will get you the help you need.
  • Keep your sense of humor. When miscommunication does occur, it’s okay to take it lightly. Chances are your loved one’s motives are good, and if you both ended up bringing home dinner, save one of the meals for tomorrow night. Or if neither one of you grabbed the groceries, share a laugh and order a pizza. Enjoy the break from cooking. It’s not a big deal in the larger picture, right?
  • See through the other person’s eyes. Sometimes our challenges and priorities seem so huge that we can’t see our loved one’s perspective. To you, two hours of video gaming is a waste of time when there is so much to do. But to your partner, it’s much needed down time after an intense day at work. Go grab a book and put your feet up for a while – the decisions about bills and schedules will wait.
  • See the big picture. When it feels like no one understands you and that you have no one to talk with, write in your journal. Know that you are loved, and that this too shall pass. Remember just last week, when you had such a terrific time walking in the park and chatting about everything under the sun. Take a nap. Let go of your expectations and just be who you are in this moment.