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What Did You Say?

I have been married 21 years and my wife and I still work on communication. We just had a conversation about communication and respect because neither of us were listening clearly to the other's points of view. Lately, we have been under stress regarding our careers, self-care, the foolishness of our adult son, and the maintenance of our daily lives. Our days have been long and there is just a lot going on. I know many of you relate.

However, that is no excuse to not communicate for understanding so that the message, and its intent do not get lost in translation. The stressful days of late can cause us to communicate without thinking. We speak out of anger, frustration, anxiety and take out frustrations on one another, rather than pinpoint the source(s) of our anxiety and make mental adjustments. We bring these frustrations to the workplace and have difficulty balancing home and work. It isn't personal, but we make it personal by not being considerate of what we say and how we say it.

Here are a few tips to make your communication more effective while under stress:

  1. Think before you speak. Most of the time you will realize your words don't need to be said, or they can wait until later. Think about what you want to say and the best way to say it.

  2. Never speak when angry. Blow ups will destroy relationships. Remember, the person you attack is not usually responsible. Go take a walk, gather your composure and direct the communication to the responsible party.

  3. Get it out. Sometimes you need to get to a quiet place and have a come to Jesus meeting with yourself. Cry, scream, hollar, and get the tension out. You will feel better.

  4. Find a confidant. You may need to speak with someone in confidence about private matters. Find someone you can trust, or get professional help from a counselor, therapist, minister. If the issues are deeper than you can handle emotionally, don't try to keep them bottled up. You will eventually explode.

  5. Keep a journal. Writing your thoughts is a useful form of therapy. You can say what you want, how you want it, and remember, the pen is mightier than the sword.

These are a few suggestions to help you manage stress and prevent you from communication breakdowns with your family, friends, and co-workers.

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