Thursday, April 23, 2009

That's How You See Me? That's Not How I See Myself!!

How do we appear to our partner when we are upset and angry? When we feel like the victim, what do others see in our response?

We cannot underestimate the importance of the message we intend vis a vis the message received when we communicate with others. How we feel on the inside is clearly different from what we project on the outside. When we feel victimized on the inside we may seem
abrasive and hostile on the outside. We may be feeling self rightous on the inside as regards the areas where we feel like the victim, but what we project seems defensive and rejecting toward others.

This disparity between how we perceive ourselves and how others see us may be one of the causes of negative responses when we try to communicate dissatisfaction within our relationship. We may have legitimate areas which require discussion and compromise, but if our communication is laced with negative emotion, our real message may get buried under all the unspoken hostility.

Those who see themselves as victims tend to feel hostile and angry. It is difficult to communicate effectively when our anger is leaking out during conversation. Our partner senses the unspoken issues and without any guidelines may fill in the blanks with their own misinformation. This can lead to serious misunderstandings making communication even more difficult.

The communication style known as dialoging is an important tool for avoiding some of the pitfalls in relational conversation. In dialoging partners reflect back both the spoken and unspoken messages that have been received during conversation. Rather than repeating the words back, partners interpret the spoken messages as well as the body language and emotions sensed. This type of communication gives partners the opportunity to really listen to one another. They are feeling heard, yet more importantly, understood and validated. There is a vast difference between parroting the words said and reflecting the entire meaning within a communication.

Realizing that we are not as we see ourselves is an important first step in learning effective communication skills. Our intentions have no meaning to others. They cannot sense what we mean, only what we say and project through body language. When we are aware of this disparity, we can make every effort to be as honest and open as possible in our conversation to attempt to avoid miscommunication and mixed messages.

We practice using our tools in our daily lives to enable us to put feeling words to our emotions. This part of self care allows us to process our emotions. In doing so, we become increasingly aware of how we feel and may appear to others. As we use our tools we increase our self esteem and give ourselves the gift of effective communication.

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