Category Archives: Life Advice

Communicate What You Want – Life Skills

Don’t lose the skill of describing what you want to other people.

I came from an abusive background where people ignored my requests. Every time I described what I wanted, I would either be yelled at or ignored, so I eventually learned to not describe what I want. As the years went on, I gradually lost the ability to describe what I want. I even stopped asking myself what I wanted at all.

When I moved to a healthy environment with people who were supportive and helpful, I struggled. They wanted to help me, but they didn’t know what I wanted from them and I forgot how to communicate what I want.

I started to relearn how to communicate what I wanted with baby steps.

Each of the following stages took me many attempts to learn before I could progress to the next step.

  1. I remembered to listen to my feelings at all after suppressing them for so long.
  2. I would get people’s attention when I wanted something by making a noise or taking an action.
  3. I would let them know the reason I wanted their attention is because I want something.
  4. I would try to describe what I want, and I would be misunderstood, and I would not get what I want, but at least in this step, people were trying to give me what I want.
  5. I would describe what I want accurately, and people would help me get it or direct me to others who can help me get it.

If you find yourself not getting what you want like I did, ask yourself if you are stuck in steps 2-4 where you are trying to communicate what you want, but you are actually communicating that you want something, but not what it is you want.

Assuming Intent can cause Misunderstanding

Assuming Intent can cause a misunderstanding. When someone does something that you don’t understand, ask them why the did it. When you assume why the did something, you take away their truth and reality and you start projecting your truth and reality onto them. Maybe it was an accident like you thought, or maybe it was intentional like you thought, or maybe it wasn’t what you thought and there was another factor involved entirely.

You are not a mind reader, and you also cannot see everything that is going on. It’s less about giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best reason, it’s about achieving certainty by connecting and aligning with them on a shared reality and building a connection and a relationship.

Disagree with Active Listening and Clear Transitions

Sometimes you are unaware of how your actions are being perceived by others. You might think you are defending yourself, but in reality the other person is feeling attacked by your defense.

I recently had an experience where the more I defended my point of view, the more aggressive the other person became. And it took me a while to realize that from their point of view, me disagreeing with them was me attacking them. They felt I was invalidating their emotions and their perspective and disrespecting their right to have an opinion that is different from mine when that wasn’t my intention at all.

The approach I suggest you use next time is to utilize active listening to repeat back to them what they said to show that you heard them. Then check if they want to hear your opinion. Ask if they would listen to you now that you’ve listened to them. If the answer is no, then walk away, the conversation is done. If they do listen, then you can speak your mind. Manage the transitions from when you are listening and they are talking, to when you are talking and they are listening by making these transitions very clear. The last thing you want is for them to feel you are interrupting them to talk over them. Clarify if they have finished talking and ask for permission before transitioning to you talk.

In summary, if you are defending your position without acknowledging them, they could feel attacked. The way to have a healthy conversation is to use active listening to show you heard them, and then explicit transitions with consent from you listening and them talking to you talking and them listening so both people are respected and clear on their roles in the conversation at all times.