Messages sending mixed you are? No, that is not a quote from Yoda, it should read “Are you sending mixed messages?” There are so many things that we do without even knowing which impact our communication with others. Particularly during substance use, we may have developed a style of communication that is unhealthy and ineffective. So, as we are looking to treat our substance use, we can also discover the power of effective communication.
Ineffective Communication Styles
There are many things we do in communicating, or not communicating, with others that interfere with us being effective. There are three main styles of communication which will always result in misunderstanding, resentment, and most importantly, us not communicating effectively and getting what we want. These three styles are:
- Aggressive – this form of communication is very self-centered, attacking, and often includes insults, yelling, and interrupting. Most often it comes from a place of anger or fear and a lack of empathy for others.
- Passive – these are the people-pleasers, those who are afraid to voice their own opinion and submit their control to others. Physically, they often look down, appear nervous, and attempt to make their body smaller and less noticeable. This person builds resentment toward others but is unable to understand why or do anything about it.
- Passive-Aggressive – this type of communication is often characterized by sarcasm and retaliating indirectly, including rolling eyes, slamming doors, and giving the silent treatment. When asked, this person would say that nothing is wrong, although that is far from the truth.
These styles of communication will result in anger, resentment, and us feeling like we were not heard. Understanding them will help us to not only improve our own outward communications but also to better understand when others are using one of these communication styles. With this knowledge, we can better express ourselves and understand others.
When there is negative communication happening, feelings are getting hurt, or anger or resentment are building, it is important to set boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries are communicating to others about how we wish to be respected, to communicate our values and how we want them to be protected. To go back to the Star Wars reference, boundaries are like a force shield over us and the things we value and wish to protect.
An obvious example would be that you might tell someone that you do not accept calls after 10 pm or before 8 am. This lets them know that you value your sleep, you do not wish to be disturbed, and that if they wish to communicate with you, they will need to do so during the rest of the hours in the day. You are not infringing on their rights or making them bad or wrong, simply asserting what you need to be successful in your relationship.
Setting boundaries is a part of assertive communication. This style of communication differs from the others in that we communicate our feelings and needs honestly and directly without infringing on the rights of others. We acknowledge others’ needs as equally important to ours while accepting responsibility for our own feelings and actions.
While advocating for ourselves, we realize that there are not any guarantees that the other person will respond appropriately or offer mutual respect. However, being assertive greatly increases our chances of effective communication. The first and most important piece of assertive communication is to know and feel exactly what we want. When we have clarity with ourselves, we should make direct eye contact with the other person.
We can speak with an appropriate and purposeful tone and by using “I statements.” Not only should we own our communications, but we need to make very clear and specific requests. This is not a power trip, it is being centered, sure of ourselves, and expressing our needs with clarity and purpose.
There are various goals of communication. To be able to express ourselves and our needs clearly are very important in all of our relationships. However, there is a higher goal, particularly within our personal relationships, and that is to increase connection. When we are not communicating effectively, we are not accurately representing who we are and what our needs are. Likewise, when others use ineffective communication, we cannot possibly understand their needs or who they are.
By using effective communication methods, we are better able to share who we are and learn about others’ true selves as well. Thus, we increase our connection with them. As we clear away all of the ineffective communication techniques that cloud our ability to connect with each other, we are left only with the pure human connection.
As we learn to communicate more effectively, we are more likely to have our needs met and be heard. This is empowering in all of our relationships, as we are also better able to hear and meet the needs of others in our lives. For those with whom we enjoy closer personal ties, we can build stronger connections for deeper, more fulfilling relationships.
Find the power of effective communication at AToN Center by calling (888) 535-1516. The sooner you make the call, the sooner you will be healing from your substance use in luxurious, private surroundings. The sooner you call, the sooner you will be learning to communicate more effectively and improve all of your interpersonal relationships.