Expressing Feeling vs Communicating

Many people form ideals when very young.  The issue is that those ideals are eventually not in touch with the real world.  One of the problems with growth as a person is not letting go of how you wish the world worked.  Here is a real discussion of some considerations that come up with the concept.

We all want life to be simple, but you can’t always make it simple.  Do you really just tell the truth? Well that would be mean to people who have no chance of processing it correctly.  It can be childish and naive. It isn’t just about the person talking.  The situation has more moving parts than that.

In training we have a classic assumption.  “The meaning of your communication is the response you get back.”  Are you even making sure you have decided the response the situation calls for has been decided before you communicate?  Communication is not reporting what happened so far.  Communication is not just describing now.  Communication exists for some outcome. 

As children the outcome is “Like me” “Accept me” “Let me fit In”. Eventually, as adults, we grow to know that it isn’t so much about us.  It is about the outcomes for the situation.  It is getting the job done.  It is getting the other person to do what is needed when managing a project or life circumstance. We grow out of the “What do I look like and how to they like me” phase to a much more important part of life.  Sometimes, we need to be able to make our feelings match where we are going instead of the more youthful instinct to think our initial reaction is real.  

So the skill in the mind is to notice what is, then to imagine how you need the outcomes to go.  Then to notice what is going on in the other person from their viewpoint to their emotional state.  At that point you know how to communicate the outcome, the consequences of not getting that outcome, and the benefits of getting the outcome.  You know that they may need more sight, sound or touch cues based on how they process the world.  You know that they may need to see it visually instead of just speech.  You know that some people need more repetition.  But what you don’t do is just say stuff and feel bad if not understood.  That is not a good position.

If the person is cognitively unable to keep up or is emotionally immature to the point that there is no ability to process what is being communicated- then you can try another way or put someone more competent in that role in your life. You can also choose to accept the limitation. (If parenting you continue to communicate or set up learning in whatever way works of course).

Here are some examples of situations that may require a change in ideals, beliefs and expectations.  They also require the ability to communicate for what you need to happen next rather than just reporting back and forth.

Of course we want to imagine positive future outcomes.  In the event of a setback, we also need healthy coping skills. 

  1. What if you marry someone who is healthy and then they get dementia or become wheelchair bound and you don’t change your expectations and adapt to have your life work happily?
  2. What if you yourself have a change in physical health and don’t adapt to the new situation to grow positively but instead compare yourself to the past?
  3. What if you find out someone in your life has a personality disorder that requires you to work the situation very differently for your safety or the safety of kids and so on?

In each of those situations you would need very good communications skills as opposed to just “Expressing Feelings“.

We deserve to chase the life we wish to lead.  It isn’t like a microwave dinner.  Some outcomes take time.  When in pursuit of that outcome we need to have people around us that are actually compatible with the outcomes.  Then, we need to be able to communicate what is expected of them.   We also need to see early on the expectations that are being projected on us.  

Your communication skills begin with the visual ability to see where a person’s behavior is headed early.  Decide what they need to know to keep your own identity in tact.  Then manage boundaries.  Adult life is never as simple as just feeling and reporting.  Yet, when you see what is happening, when you are willing to see a vision of the future, it isn’t really that tough to do adult situational awareness and adult communication.