Effective Communication of Feelings
Learning how to effectively communicate our feelings is necessary to the quality of our relationships with others. Effective communication of emotions entails first identifying what it is you are feeling, clarifying what you are feeling, and finally effectively expressing what you are feeling. Effectively communicating your feelings requires you to take an approach that is non-accusatory and focused on your experience rather than on what the other person is doing wrong. For example, let us say that you felt angry after a loved one spoke to you in a specific tone of voice. First you would want to identify that you are feeling angry, next you would want to be curious as to why you are feeling angry, and the last step would be to determine how best to communicate your experience to the other person without putting them on the defense. So in the prior example, saying something along the lines of, “It hurts me when you speak to me in that tone of voice, and I feel angry when you hurt me” is likely to be more effective and better received than saying, “When you spoke to me in that tone of voice, you made me mad because you were being a jerk”. It is important to manage our expectations when we communicate our feelings. More specifically, we must be prepared for the fact that we may not receive the response we are hoping for. When we choose to communicate our feelings with someone, it is best not to expect a particular response, and it is helpful to recognize that sharing your feelings is as much for you as it is for the other person. Before you express yourself to another person, you want to prepare yourself for the potential that you may not be understood, and ask yourself whether it will help or hurt you further to express yourself. In many instances, just the act of voicing yourself, regardless of what the other person chooses to do with that information can be empowering. In other cases (i.e where there is neither promise of being understood nor potential relief in simply stating your experience) it might be more helpful to share the feelings with someone other than the person at whom they are directed. Effective communication requires us to be mindful of our physical, cognitive, and emotional experiences and depends on our ability to respond rather than react to those around us. Learning to communicate effectively is a life-long practice that requires patience, perseverance, and imperfection.