This post, based on my podcast of the same name, explores the way we can block healthy communication in relationships
Blocking healthy communication may not even be something that a person is aware of. It could have just evolved from an early age, perhaps via childhood messages and learnt behaviours from significant people in our lives.
To really look at changing the way communication with others occurs, especially in your own relationship, can require a lot of in-depth exploration around family or origin and learnt behaviours and childhood messages, which I talk about on a more personal level in my podcast.
The way we communicate can be very unconscious.
What I mean by this is that someone may speak in a certain way without thinking anything of it, not realising that it could be hurtful or offensive to another. Perhaps your style of communication could be ordering, which means giving orders or telling someone what to do. You might say “well, this is just the way I do things so I know they are done properly”. If that is the case, could there perhaps be a more effective, clearer, less antagonistic way of communicating your needs and if so, would that be difficult for you to achieve?
There are so many ways that communication can be blocked in a relationship, and this can often lead to the build up of arguments and discontent. What are your thoughts when I mention ‘lecturing and advising’? Or when someone has very strong rigid thoughts on what is right or wrong and another person may have a different point of view. These may seem minor blocks to communication for some people as it may have been a normal way of speaking for a very long time, however it comes down to the fact that perhaps a review of your own way of communicating could lead to you having a healthier relationship with others.
Another block to effective and respectful communication is withdrawing, distracting, humoring or diverting. This is a particularly difficult one for someone who just wants to have their feelings heard or understood, however another person may become uncomfortable with them doing so. This type of blocking behaviour can often be seen in regard to the grieving process when someone may want to talk about a person who has passed away. Others could be very uncomfortable with this, brushing the sharing of those feelings aside, perhaps saying “you will get over it”, or “it’s been six months, you have to move on with your life”.
If you recognise that perhaps this is one of your behaviours, that you perhaps distract or divert at any time, is there a possibility you may be able to say or do anything differently? Recalling a scenario where you did distract or divert, are you aware of what was happening for you in your body? Was it uncomfortable for you to hear a person talking about their grief and did you feel the need to ‘move them along’ quickly so that your own uncomfortable feelings would dissipate? Upon further reflection, if this is the case is there anything you could say or do differently in the future? This would, of course, mean that you would need to be willing to perhaps just listen and tune-in to someone else’s pain.
Let’s take a look at some of those blocks to communication that can be deemed abusive, especially over a long period of time.
Behaviours such as name calling, ridiculing and shaming, putting a person down, calling them stupid, useless, fat or ugly. This form of communication is extremely debilitating for the person on the receiving end. I would also imagine that someone who uses this style of communication could also be using power and control of some form or another in the relationship.
The same could be said for questioning and interrogating. For example “where were you, you didn’t answer your phone”, “why are you late”, “why did you to take so long to reply to my message”, those kinds of things. If this style of communication is occurring in the relationship, then questions would need to be asked as to how could this possibly be seen as a healthy relationship with healthy communication styles.
Preaching to someone, telling them what they should do or ought to do can also be viewed as abusive if it is ongoing. In a healthy relationship there would be an open discussion about a situation rather than one person telling another what ‘should’ happen.
A warning and threatening communication style can also be abusive if it is in such a way that it leaves a person fearful of what might happen. For example a statement such as “if you do that you will be sorry” could certainly feel threatening in an unhealthy relationship.
Hear more on my podcast channel
I have explored this topic of blocks to communication more fully in my podcast which can be found at https://podcast.janbaylisscounselling.com.au or on Spotify, Apple, iHeart etc. I do hope you will tune in and perhaps begin to find new ways of communicating to move into a new and enriched way of being in a relationship.