Topic: Effective Communication
Goal: Overcoming Negative Communication: The Silent Treatment/ Passive Aggressive Behavior
“What’s bugging you?” “What’s eating you?” “What’s the matter?” “What’s wrong?” “You don’t look yourself.” “You’re not acting the same.”
Something is wrong. Everybody knows it. Everyone sees the change in your demeanor. You really are acting differently. You however, are putting on a show. You are upset but you refuse to address the situation. As least you refuse to admit and address it right now. You most likely will address it in a few hours, a few days, a few months, but it is coming. And oh the firestorm that will ensue.
You may be feeling overwhelmed. You may feel hurt. You may be having a difficult time processing your feelings. These are all normal feelings. Your behavior exhibited in light of these feelings however, may not be appropriate or helpful for your relationships.
So, how can you best share your feelings with the people around you? More importantly, the people that love you? How can you process your thoughts and express your feelings without lashing out, without hurting others, or without hurting yourself?
First, lets understand and agree that communication is paramount. How you communicate with your spouse and/ or your family members will color the nature of your mutual relationships. Given that these individual relationships are ones you wish to cultivate, here are a few steps to help you move pass one of your negative communication patterns.
1. Take a figurative or literal deep breathe. Journal. Pray. Meditate on Scripture. Schedule an appointment with your counselor.
Employ a method or methods where you can take time to collect your thoughts, clearly process your feelings, and gain some perspective.
2. After taking some time to collect your thoughts, process your feelings, and gain some perspective, your next step is to engage your loved one.
Start by expressing your gratitude to your loved one for their concern. Again, provided this is a healthy relationship that is reflective of mutual empathy, consider that your loved one is most likely trying to help you. The manner in which they demonstrate this help may not be exactly what you need or appreciate. Nevertheless, try to consider that person’s perspective. Of course you will never really know unless you effectively engage your loved one.
3. Clearly communicate your feelings to your loved one.
Use I statements to express your feelings rather than blaming your loved one for their actions. (Ex. I felt sad when you…)
4. Allow your loved one to also express their feelings.
5. If you and your loved one aren’t able to effectively arrive at a mutual understanding, you may consider enlisting the help of a trusted advisor or professional counselor.
1. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
2. A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Remember, it takes time to change behavioral patterns. Give yourself and also your loved one some grace. Let’s communicate in love.
Dr. Reneé A. Foyou
Reneé loves to listen to, document, and share individual life stories. She is also very passionate about journeying with couples and individuals to relational wellness. Intercessory prayer is an integral part of her work. She enjoys teaching, speaking, counseling, coaching, mentoring, conducting research, and writing.
You can learn more about Reneé’s work here.