Relationship Tip of the Week

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Relationship Tip of the Week

As a therapist, one of the biggest complaints I get has to do with “unspoken” messages.

“She said she was okay with me going, but then she did that sigh thing.” And she replies, “I said it was okay for you to go, didn’t I?”

Or, “I hate it when he makes that face.” Then he says, “What face?”

Words are only 7 percent of your conversation. The rest is your voice tonality (38 %) and your body language (55 %). Rolling your eyes, sighing, frowning or using terse words convey 93% of your message and can completely negate what your words state. Often deep self-esteem issues arise out of these situations because people feel rejected, marginalized or dismissed.

If you get a double message from someone you have a choice: You can decide what they are really saying and proceed from there (if you go, are you going to be punished?), you can talk about it, “You’re words are saying yes but everything else is saying ‘No.’ It sounds like we really need to talk about this more” or you can pout (silent treatment).

If you are the one doing it, then step back and think about why you choose to communicate this way instead of being up front. Your feelings may or may not be legitimate but it is obviously something you need to sort out and certainly worth talking about.

We use this passive-aggressive way of communicating out of habit or because we’re angry we can’t do anything about the situation. Knee-jerk anger in response doesn’t help. Talking—sometimes two or three times about the issue will eventually end up in a better place as long as you are both willing to hear what is bothering the other person. You don’t have to agree with the other person’s point of view—you just have to acknowledge his or her feelings.  It is not about winning—it is about your relationship in the long run.

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