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What To Do When You Can't Communicate
What do you usually do when you get stuck with someone and can't communicate?
Do you:
* Try harder to get your point across, talking louder or faster?
* Get angry, shouting to intimidate the other person into hearing you and/or agreeing
with you?
* Cry in frustration?
* Feel resigned, give in and just listen quietly to the other person?
* Walk away or hang up the phone in a huff, withdrawing your love in the hope of
punishing the other person into hearing you?
* Grab a drink or food to avoid your feelings?
* Turn on the TV or open a book?
* Ruminate about how wrong the other person is and what you wish you could say to
What happens within you and with your relationship when you do any of these things?
Generally, what happens is that you and the other person are distant for a while and
then things calm down, but it may be some time before you and your partner (or friend,
child, parent, co-worker) feel comfortable talking with each other or being around each
other again.
There is a better way to approach the situation when you can't communicate.
First, it's important to understand WHY you can't communicate.
Man and woman talking at the table
Good communication and conflict
resolution flow naturally when two or more
people are open to learning about
themselves and each other.
This means that it is more important to
you to learn from the situation than it is to
be right and win.
It is impossible to communicate effectively
when one person is not open to learning.
Think about it for a minute. How often does it work to resolve an issue or reach
understanding if one person is attached to controlling the outcome of the conversation?
Yet how often do you keep trying and trying while frustration is building?
What would you do if you 100% accepted that there is no way of being heard or
understood when the other person is closed to learning, and there is no way you are
going to hear or understand when you are closed to learning?
The first thing to do is to check in with yourself and make sure that you are open to
learning. If you check in and discover you are closed, angry, blaming, defensive or
stressed, or that you have an agenda, then you either need to shift your intent from
controlling to learning, or you need to accept that this is not a good time for you to
talk. You might say, "I think I'm feeling too frustrated right now to talk about this. Let's
try again in half an hour." Then you disengage, and do some inner work to get yourself
open and caring and then go back and try again.
If you check in and you are open, the next thing to do might seem simple, but it's
incredibly challenging for most of us. You need to 100% accept that, if you are stuck in
communicating, the other person is not open, and that there is nothing you can do
about it. It's very hard for most of us to accept that we have no control over whether
another person chooses to be open or closed, caring or uncaring, controlling or
If you 100% accepted your lack of control over the other person's intention, and 100%
accepted that you can't resolve anything when one person is closed, then you can take
loving action in your own behalf.
The healthy action you can take is to say, "We seem to be stuck in our communication
right now. Let's try it again in half an hour." Notice you are not accusing the other
person of being closed, which would be a form of control. You are merely stating that
you are stuck.
The challenge now is to keep your heart open so that when the other person is open,
you are too. This means that you walk away with love rather than anger, and tend
inside to any sadness or heartache over the lack of connection with the other person.
If the other person never opens, then you need to accept that there is no way of
resolving anything with that person, and you need to open to learning about how to
take loving care of yourself in the face of that truth.
Margaret Paul, Ph. D
Article Directory:
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and
co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding process - featured on Oprah. Are you are
ready to discover real love and intimacy? Click here for a FREE
CD/DVD relationship offer, and visit our website at for more articles and help. Phone
Sessions Available.
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Many people are more themselves when they hide behind the computer. They say
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