Good communication skills are essential
Communication is an important part of building and maintaining healthy relationships. It is especially important to understand the do’s and don’ts of communication when you are trying to explain how you are feeling while going through menopause. Menopause issues, often called menopause symptoms, can wreak havoc on your body and emotions. Good communication skills are essential to enable you to speak about them to those around you and help them understand so that they can support you through this transition.
When you are trying to convey to someone how you feel, there are many things that you might be doing during a discussion that can cause the person at the other end to shut down and stop listening to what you are trying to tell them.
Here are some of the things that act as barriers to good communication. Here is a list of what not to do!
6 Barriers to Communication
1- Not paying attention
When someone is speaking to you and you look over their shoulder or at your phone, it sends the message that you are not really interested in what they have to say. This can cause offense and effectively shut down the conversation.
When the other person we are communicating with feels judged, they are likely to clam up and become defensive. Just as we do when we feel judged.
Faced with an angry person, we feel under threat and rise up to protect ourselves. We shut down and stop listening. So do other people if we come into the conversation consumed with anger.
Like anger, criticism makes you feel like you are under attack. You stop listening and communication fails. The same thing happens when we criticize and attach blame to others; they shut down and stop listening.
5- Giving solutions
In an effort to seem empathetic and helpful, we often offer unrequested advice when all that is needed is for us to listen. Sometimes, people just need someone to listen to them and validate their concerns. If you just need your partner to listen to you tell him/her this up front.
“Honey I just need you to listen to me vent…analyze…think through…please don’t try to solve it for me. Just listen. Please…”
Some people feel uncomfortable discussing important issues and will often make a joke to try to lighten the mood. This will backfire making the other person feel as if their feelings can be brushed aside.
Good communication skills are essential
So, what do we do? How do we communicate effectively about what is happening to us and how we are feeling in menopause?
7 Tips For Communicating Effectively
What to do is as important for good communication as what not to do.
1- Active Listening:
The first and most important pathway to good communication is listening. That’s right! We often think of communication as us expressing what we want and need to others. However, the best way to be heard is to actively listen.
Active listening means that
• you give verbal space to the person you are communicating with.
• Pay attention to your posture and lean towards the person not away from them. Don’t cross you arms or look defensive.
• Acknowledge what they are saying in such a way that they feel heard and not dismissed or belittled.
• Do not judge while listening. Stay open and receptive. Make an effort to avoid running what you are hearing through your own filters. Stay objective.
To resolve an issue, you have to be honest about how you feel. Honesty does not mean cruelty. You can convey a hard truth as tactfully and kindly as possible.
3- Non-Verbal Communication:
Your body language shows engagement: Do not fold your arms, lean in towards them, make eye contact and generally show that you are carefully listening to what they are saying.
4- Emotional Control
Try not to display anger or be dismissive. If you feel anger rising, take a moment to breathe, or even excuse yourself and leave the room for a few minutes until you cool down. Showing anger or being dismissive will effectively shut communication down.
5- Asking questions
Ask for clarification on things you do not understand. Your questions should indicate a willingness to understand and should not carry an accusatory tone.
6- Being present
While communicating, don’t look away, don’t check your phone or look at your computer, and don’t look over the other person’s shoulder. These behaviors show disinterest in what the other person is saying and will contribute to a communication breakdown.
7- Being empathetic
Show understanding of what the other person is saying by mirroring what they are saying to indicate that you listened and understood. You can say something like: Am I understanding you right when you say you feel X When I do Y? or “I am hearing you say that …”. It is important to avoid being judgmental or critical.