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Communication Advice Article


Are You Talking on Eggshells?

By Susie and Otto Collins

As Relationship Coaches and simply observers of all kinds of relationships--if there's one thing we've noticed, people do a lot of "talking on eggshells."

 
We'll explain what we mean with a story...
 
Samantha and her sister Karen had their differences when they were growing up but those differences have never been so apparent as when they had to deal with their father's serious illness.
 
Each sister seemed to say and do things that would cause the other to feel defensive and to either lash out or withdraw.
 
Each sister was afraid to say what was really on her mind because of what she feared would happen to their relationship if she did.
 
They were both stuck in not understanding one another and reacting in ways that were not healthy for their relationship.
 
When they talked, it was as if they were "talking on eggshells"--talking carefully around hot-button issues and fearing that one of them would say something to destroy their relationship forever.
 
We're pretty sure that you have either had this type of communication challenge in a relationship or you have seen it in action.
 
It's pretty painful to be in the middle of this type of situation and also painful for loved ones to watch it happen.
 
When the two of us first came together, Otto felt like he was "talking on eggshells" with Susie's daughter.
 
During that time, he didn't want to say or do the "wrong" thing to make Susie's daughter mad because he knew how Susie valued her relationship with her daughter.
 
Otto found himself "talking on eggshells" when he was with Susie's daughter and was fearful that he was going to lose something special if he didn't say the "right" things to her.
 
Their relationship and communication changed for the better when they both chose to change their attitudes toward one another.
 
Here are some ideas that Otto and Susie's
daughter used to change how they communicate and also a few suggestions if you are in a similar situation as in our example of Samantha and Karen...
 
1. Look at your situation realistically, without making up stories about what the other person is thinking or meaning when the two of you communicate.

You truly don't know what if anything is underneath what the other person is saying or doing. Discover what is accurate from the most objective viewpoint that you are able to muster.
 
2. Become emotionally aware of what's inside you. What feelings come up when you are triggered by what this person says? Identify those feelings and just "sit" with them.

Are they feelings that have come up for you in a previous relationship? Look beneath anger for what is there for you. It could be feelings of unworthiness or a number of different emotions.

It could be the feeling that you can never have what you want.
 
3. Become aware of what you say when you are triggered in this situation. Do you retaliate against the "real" or imagined threat by lashing out at the other person or withdrawing? Do you get resentful and "punish" the other person with snide comments or cruel jokes?
 
4. Have the courage to look at your situation in a completely different, new way. Stand back and look with new eyes on this relationship--and begin opening your heart to this other person.
 
5. Have the courage (and it does take courage) to say what is true for you--in a way that can be heard. Be sure when you are speaking that you are telling the other person how you feel and not what they have done wrong.

The other person may not be aware of how their words and actions affect you. Tell the other person how you would like communication to be between the two of you.
 
6. Listen to how the other person feels and what he/she wants in this situation. Listen with an open heart and from a place of wanting to understand rather than defending.
 
7. Commit to changing and healing this communication challenge. Changing any habit takes time and takes a moment-by-moment commitment to do it differently.
 
What we've found is that "talking on eggshells" is a habit that can be changed.

If this describes a challenge in your life, begin now to create a happier, healthier relationship and life experience by taking a few steps toward healing.

 

 

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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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