“We don’t communicate well.” The logical reaction is to focus on learning what to say and how to say it. Unfortunately, it’s not the best response to the problem.
Trying to pick your words and say things perfectly is exhausting; it’s easy to give up. It’s like trying to put Band-Aids on broken bones; it misses the depth of the problem.
If a woman admits that she often nags, or a man admits that he often criticizes, the first thing they address is their own tone of voice. This often leads to them being told, “You just don’t get it.” It’s true — they missed the big picture.
Even if you say something inconsiderate, controlling, or hurtful in a “really nice and calm tone of voice”, it’s still inconsiderate, controlling or hurtful!
When we understand the big picture, we can learn what’s helpful and what’s not.
Lack of understanding, about ourselves and the other person, is why we react rather than respond. Greater understanding, about ourselves and the other person, is the pathway to learning what to say and how to say it.
When we recognize our emotional reactions, gain self-control, and learn to listen, we won’t have to say it perfectly or smoothly. We can find our voice, become transparent and vulnerable about what’s inside of us, and let ourselves be heard.
That’s the full picture of what it means to react less and respond more.