I have been trying very hard to be a better communicator. I know that is one area that I have always struggled with. When I’m happy I generally communicate pretty well. When I receive positive feedback, whether received by verbal or physical cues, I continue to communicate well. But if I’m in a bad mood, or if I’m not receiving any sort of positive feedback, I begin to clam up and quickly become very defensive, even if the situation does not appear to require any sort of defense.
I have been reading a book lately that had a chapter on effective communication and I made some mental notes of how in my next conflict specifically I was going to handle it better. Well, the conflict came. Lori and I were both upset with each other but neither of us was talking. She finally broke the ice and asked me what was wrong. I had been thinking about that very matter and was trying to pinpoint exactly when it was that I began to be upset because let’s face it, the minute you get upset with someone, everything else they do will bug you (please tell me I’m not alone!!). I didn’t want to bring up anything that wasn’t the problem so I was self diagnosing, only she asked me too quickly and I hadn’t quite made it back to the source of my frustration so she got the answer that I had at that moment arrived at. In my head I knew what I wanted to say and how I was going to say it. I was going to use “I” statements, I was going to keep my voice calm and level, I was not going to be accusatory. In my head, this was going to work, but the second I opened my mouth, things just started coming out and you could kiss my nice little plan good bye. I was listening to myself and was mentally telling myself to stop and get control, but it just kept coming. And then so did the tears. I wasn’t crying because I was so emotional about what the issue was. I was crying because I had failed. I knew how I wanted to react, and I didn’t. I had the correct plan in my head but I didn’t/couldn’t stick to it (still trying to determine if I chose not to or was unable to).
I guess I shouldn’t call it a total fail, I mean, I learned some obvious lessons and have a better idea how to redirect myself. And after I had my "meltdown" I was able to explain in a calm and rational manner what it was that was frustrating to me. I’m hoping that next time, after having had this experience, I will remember what it is that I hope to accomplish and that I will start winning!