A Different Way to Communicate

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A few years ago I had to take Shana’s car into the mechanic which left her with my car.  Being the good, considerate husband I am I quickly transferred her stuff to my car so I wouldn’t be late.  I was proud of myself when I texted Shana to let her know I put her work stuff in my car.  Her response wasn’t grateful.  In fact, she was angry because I forgot something.

I was mad. I wasn’t asked to transfer her stuff, but I did it anyway.  It wasn’t my job to make sure she had everything she needed!  She knew the night before we would be switching cars.  There was no way I was in the wrong.  How dare she get upset with me!?  Needless to say we went back and forth over text message arguing the details, facts, and information.

different-way-to-communicate

Later on, I found out she was hurt because I didn’t say good-bye.  She wasn’t mad about her things.  She was upset because I didn’t give her a kiss and say good-bye.

There are two different levels of communication going on in this story.   The first level is state and defend or the news weather and sports level.  It is the facts or information.  It is the logic, thoughts or excuses.  This level is where a fight is “won” or “lost”.  (If you are concerned about winning, you are actually losing).  Conflict will always remain difficult when communicating on this level.

The other level of communication is vulnerable and intimate.  This is when you communicate with feelings.  The best part about this level is you can’t argue with how someone feels.  Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are!  When Shana expressed that she felt hurt when I didn’t say good-bye, I felt empathy and wanted to apologize!  This is where true repair occurs!

The next time you’re in a disagreement with someone you care about, take a moment to move out of the news, weather and sports level of communication to express how you feel. Opening up the door to more vulnerable and intimate communication, isn’t always easy, but the rewards can be great!
Casey Bresnahan
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