COMMUNICATION SKILLS

HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

Someone completely misunderstands you and it turns into a big argument before you both realize what’s going on? Or, a friend or partner says something that you interpret to mean one thing and you find out a little too late that they meant something else?

We’re talking about communication skills here, or rather, the lack of communication skills. Most of us operate as if people can read our minds and then we’re all surprised and hurt when they can’t. “If he/she really cared, they would know what I meant without having to explain everything.”

It’s amazing how many people actually believe that if they have to tell someone what they want, it somehow doesn’t count. Communicating about sexual matters is especially hard, but fortunately, with a few skills and some practice, anybody can make improvements. And the results are completely worth it!

SPEAK UP!

When someone says or does something you aren’t comfortable with, say so! Most people don’t want to intentionally hurt or offend others, but unless you tell them, they are likely to assume what they did was okay with you. But, how you say it can make lot of difference.

“I” NOT “YOU”

Using “I” language instead of “You’ language is very important. Look at these examples and think about how you’d react.
Someone says something pretty crude to you about your body. You can:

A)  Do and say nothing → it will probably happen again;
B)  Say “You are such a jerk!” → Your friend will either laugh or get mad and it will probably happen again;


OR

C) You can try this: “I don’t like that. It feels pretty disrespectful” → Your friend will probably think twice next time.

Try to avoid telling people what you think they need to do. How do you react when someone says “you need to…?” You probably want them to keep their advice to themselves, right? So, don’t be offended when you tell someone what you think they need to do and they’re not all that grateful! “You need to…” is simply code for “I want you to…” and it’s really okay to tell people what you want.

“You need to quit pushing me!”   vs.  “I want you to stop pressuring me for sex, it feels like bullying and I’m getting upset.”

The first example is likely to trigger a big defensive response – “I’m not pushing you!” The second is more likely to elicit something like “Oh, okay. I’m sorry, didn’t mean to pressure you.”

BE A GOOD LISTENER

Learn to listen for the message being said rather than thinking about what you’re going to say back -even if you think you already know what they are going to say. People tend to repeat themselves when they don’t think they were heard the first time. Try listening for what you think the other person might be feeling and respond to that. “It sounds like you’re worried that if I don’t have sex with you, it means I don’t love you.”

NO GUARANTEES

You can’t communicate yourself out of every problem or disagreement. Sometimes you just have to walk away, calm down and try again later. Even then, if the other person isn’t willing to try as hard as you are, it may be time to walk away permanently. That’s hard, but it’s also part of growing up and learning to take care of yourself!



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