Sometimes, it’s what we don’t say that can land us in hot water with our partner.
Have you ever had that experience? You’re standing there, listening to what they have to say, when all of a sudden their face clouds up, their eyes scrunch into slits and they lash out at you…
You’re standing there wondering, “What did I do? I was just standing here listening!”
Most people fail to remember something very important: there is a spectrum involved with communication, and you may inadvertently be steering yourself off-message by forgetting this.
In this blog, we’ll get you back on message with 2 tips and make sure your communication across the spectrum is saying what you mean rather than sending mixed signals. Please keep reading…
What Communication Is Made Up Of
If you want to communicate effectively and make sure you are staying on-point with your message, you have to think beyond just the words you say. It seems we always think “verbal” when it comes to communication.
And because we only look at part of what makes up communication, it helps to explain why so many of us land in hot water when we’re speaking to others.
There’s a good deal of information you can be sharing with your partner and you don’t even realize it’s made up entirely of nonverbal cues. In fact, 70% of all communication is non-verbal.
So it seems hard to believe that we only acknowledge the tip of the iceberg… that mere 30% that’s spoken!
If you think non-verbal communication is only whether or not you cross your arms when someone is talking to you, you may be missing the versatility of this type of communication. Here are some examples…
- Touching someone’s arm when they speak
- Making eye contact
- Holding the door for someone
- Flirtatious looks
- Sitting close to someone on a couch
When you consider just these few examples, can you see how there may be room for interpretation, depending on how you pull it off, who you do it to or for, or even if you do the opposite?
For example, take the last one. Let’s say your partner is sitting on the couch, and you decide to sit down. Instead of sitting next to them, you go to the extreme opposite end, all but squeezing yourself into that crack on the other side to avoid touching them.
What message do you think that sends? Now remember… you haven’t said one word. You simply chose a place to sit.
But if you normally sit right next to your partner but decide today, you’re going to sit far from them, it’s open to interpretation. You may be unconsciously signaling that you’re upset with your partner. Even if you don’t intend that to be your message, you can see how it may be interpreted unfavorably.
Now, if you coupled the action with the explanation, “I think I’m coming down with something, and I don’t want to get you sick!” Well, this changes how they may interpret your action significantly, right?
Here’s how to check your non-verbal communication to make sure it’s on-point with your messaging:
Tip #1: Couple Actions with Words
It’s easy to get caught up in our own head and not have awareness of our actions. You may be thinking about all you have to do at work, and your body is tense and your partner can see it. But if you don’t verbalize what’s going on in your world, your partner will be left wondering whether they did something to upset you.
So, when you are in the room with your partner, for example, and you have a lot on your mind, just say so: “Honey, I am really tense at the moment because I have a lot on my mind.” It’s a simple thing to do, and you may even begin to loosen up by sharing what’s going on.
Tip #2: Be Respectful at All Times
How often have you or your partner been pouring out your heart to the other, and if the message isn’t being received well, there is a rolling of the eyes or a back turned to deflect criticism or a hand put up to shush the other?
These non-verbal cues all signal disrespect. One of the best test questions you can ask yourself is, “Would I behave this way in front of a minister/rabbi/police officer/judge/boss?
Surely we deserve as much respect, and so we should be conscious of how we show our level of respect to our partners, too.
My best to you in successfully communicating your message to your partner.