In the past, I’ve written about severe communication clashes resulting in unexpected relationship crashes. “It came out of the blue. I didn’t see it coming!” is the lament of bad communication habits come home to roost.
Frighteningly, many mistakes in communication are caused because we don’t have a “learner’s permit” to drive down the fast-moving and fender-crunching Talk Autobahn. Partners let it rip then stomp on the accelerator, talking hot and fast with loose lips, forgetting to get a good grip on the relationship steering wheel.
In fact, as you barrel down the highway, you naively believe that you and yours are adamantly able to articulate with the ability and agility of a race car driver, about such dicey topics as money, sex, parenting, health, happiness, and even work. But without a systematic approach to communication, it’s the same as driving a red Corvette 145 mph down a foggy highway during rush hour traffic, oblivious to the dangers lurking just beyond your field of vision.
A CONFLICT OF COMMUNICATION
Love and civility disappear into the back seat, while resentment and ugly power plays appear in the driver’s seat. Here’s how one relationship communications client described self-inflicted losses:
I couldn’t seem to take a good thing and run with it. I caused myself to stumble, and I was able to ruin anything. When my partner got close, I would disconnect. I was SO afraid of being disappointed and hurt, that I beat my partner to the punch, and I caused the very loss I’d feared. You’ve taught me that being an Instigator communicator means that I’m a powerful producer of results, and I don’t need to make a lifetime habit of self-defeating actions. Now I’m letting myself be happy. I’m in love with life right now. Why shouldn’t I let myself feel happy? I’ve learned from working with the Talk2Me© system, that when I try to minimize disappointments (hurt, loss, grief), I am actually causing them!
It’s all in the system, sweetheart. If you know to whom you are talking, by type (there are four distinct talk types in total), you stand a fair chance to: put on the brakes, slow down the communication mistakes flying past you, and pull your Corvette over and park it in a safe spot until you learn how to drive.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THERE’S A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE AND YOU’RE LIVING WITH A STALE-MATE
Authentic communication sticks to reality and doesn’t impose an experience of artificially created loss or grief on lovers. Here’s how to know when you are in a stalemate and living together with a stale-mate:
1. YOU DON’T FEEL APPRECIATED. You don’t feel loved, needed, or appreciated. You feel like an old piece of furniture, instead of valued and valuable. You constantly feel disapproved of, and that what you do is never “good enough.” You are often told that you are part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.
2. YOU’RE AT A LOSS. You experience your self-control slip-sliding away and your self-confidence floundering. You correctly intuit that you and your partner are acting out a storyline of loss, one that inflicts unnecessary pain upon the relationship while it heaps unhappiness on everyone.
3. SECRET-KEEPING. Secrets are kept, while open discussions are closed off. You feel afraid that your security will be taken away from you, so you ferociously guard your independence like an expensive jewel.
4. RELATIONSHIP JITTERS…FEARFUL OF LOSS. A loss of communication becomes the normative pattern. You become fearful of asking for what you want and need…fearful that what you have will be abruptly taken away from you…fearful that you’re never going to be loved or appreciated again.
5. DISAGREEMENTS ARE HURTFUL, DISRUPTING HAPPINESS. Disputes cause you to feel abandoned, anxious, like a loser, at a loss for words, and grief-stricken. Compromises that synthesize or incorporate viewpoint A with viewpoint B to co-create viewpoint C, are rarely reached. Standoffs result as partners dig in for battle.
6. RESENTING REPLACES LOVING. Stewing, brooding, and building walls of resentment erase loving feelings, passion, and romantic encounters. Worse yet, you fail to give attention to your own life as you get wrapped around the axle of your lover’s communicator car.
7. HOOKED INTO HELPING. You act too nice and don’t set limits or boundaries that you can stick to. You feel helpless and hopeless that what you’re doing will ever work to accomplish the goals of good communication.
8. CONFUSING EMOTIONAL COMMUNICATION. You struggle to manage your strong emotions, and your mistrust heightens. You never quite know for sure where you stand with your partner or understand what he or she is up to. There are also truckloads of implied, mixed messages that play with your mind.
9. YOU DON’T OBEY THE EMOTIONAL SPEED LIMITS. Constructive criticisms become explosive arguments. You fail to stick to the rules when playing the talk game, and you don’t pay attention to speed limit signs, then you get mad when you’re ticketed by a divorce cop.
10. THE “RELATIONSHIP FEEL” IS MADDENING. You don’t live “IN happiness.” Instead, you feel grumpy and the “relationship feel” is anger…which is a kill-joy. Worse still, you feel all alone, existing by yourself in the relationship.
In short, you experience A LOSS OF COMMUNICATION and basic security in your relationship, and you don’t seem to be able to get your happy back.
A CONFLICT OF COMMUNICATION LEADS TO A STALE-MATE
A conflict of communication occurs when there are mixed messages, confusing signals, and a lukewarm attitude toward the relationship. Even worse, there is a huge fear of talking openly for fear of hurting your partner; disorientation about partner commitment or the depth of love; emotional inaccessibility vs. verbal openness. Hey, you know driving down the two-way Talk Highway isn’t supposed to be easy without driving lessons! It’s not your fault though, because distressed couples resort to using the cruise control, then they experience interpersonal conflict during the very act of trying to get past bad communication habits.
WHO IS RELATIONSHIP ADVISOR DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.?
Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the originator of the Talk2Me© effective relationship communication system. His specialty is improving communication in companies and couples in small ways that net big gains and upbeat changes. The larger communication umbrellas of Empathizer-type and Instigator-type communicators are, astonishingly, not gender, race, or age-driven. (So much for blaming the opposite sex, a different race, or age mate for our problems.) If you aren’t working with your basic communicator style, then you are driving near-blind on the two-way communicator highway, bound for making emotionally costly mistakes. The first benefit to you when you begin using the Talk2Me© system? Your energy will “pop up,” you will feel better, and “in happiness” vs. “in a rut.”