Couple back to back upset on park bench

Communication Blockers

Frequently couple’s communication is unsuccessful because one or both partners have some bad habits that block communication. There must be an intentional effort by both parties to eliminate these bad habits.

INTERRUPTING – Nobody likes to be cut off. In a conflict, it’s important for everyone to tell his/her side without interruption. Subtly changing the subject can interrupt the flow of the conversation.

IGNORING – Not paying attention is one way of ignoring. Another way is brush off what someone says or change the subject. For example:

Jody: I’m really worried about the test. I didn’t sleep all night.

Glen: It’s no big deal. Are we going to the dance Friday night?

SARCASM: Sure you had no idea I’d mind you taking it without asking. In a conflict, sarcasm and patronizing make people feel like you are making fun of them. That will start a fight for sure.

ACCUSING/CIA: You intentionally forgot to do what I asked you to do. Why is she your Facebook friend? If you speak accusingly to someone, that person will probably get angry and defensive.

INSULTING-NAME CALLING-THREATENING-PSYCHOANALYZING: That is the ugliest shirt I have ever seen. Do you have to dress like a dufus? Don’t embarrass me or I’ll embarrass you. Your problem is that you are bi-polar. When you insult, name call, threaten or label someone, you attack him or her. An attack makes the anger level rise. It does nothing to improve communication, change the other person or resolve conflict.

GLOBALIZING: You always mess up our room. You never clean up. Global statements are rarely accurate. They label people and make them angry and resentful.

JUDGING/DOMINATING/MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY: That’s wrong. What you should do is… Do you decide if others are right or wrong, and tell them what to do or how they should feel? This often leads to conflict.

GETTING ANGRY – Anger will kill communication. Even the slightest change in tone and facial expression can alert your partner that you have been triggered. Little phrases that denote irritation or frustration can be masked anger. “I thought I told you it slipped my mind?” Anger simply assumes the other is guilty.

BLAMING: It’s all your fault. Blamers are quick to say, “It wasn’t my fault – it was yours!” To solve problems, it is important to get away from the idea that somebody has to be blamed.

STATING OPINION AS FACT/PROPHESYING: That will never work! You won’t be successful doing that! There is a big difference between “That will never work” and “In my opinion, that will never work.” The second statement allows others to express a different opinion. The first statement invites silence or an argument.

EXPECTING SOMEONE TO READ YOUR MIND:  Don’t act so innocent. You know why I’m mad! If something is bothering you, be assertive and talk it out. Nobody can know what you are thinking unless you tell them.

FILERBUSTERING – Going on and on and on and on. Saying more than your partner can digest at one time dominates the conversation and shuts the other person down. Take turns, use “I hear you saying”, try not to talk over 5 minutes without checking in to see what your partner is hearing you say.

SILENT TREATMENT – Not saying anything at all is an ineffective way to resolve conflict and simply stinks.

GUNNYSACKING –“If you had finished college we wouldn’t be so broke”. Bringing up things from the past as if they were still present doesn’t help focus on what is happening today. If you don’t keep the past in the past it becomes your present. Let go of what happened in the past!

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