How to Communicate Without Hurting Feelings
By Harriette Knight
You've been stewing for days about something your partner has done, but the last thing you want to do is upset the apple cart and tell them. How can you get off your chest what is bothering you without hurting their feelings? Here are some tips to help you communicate without causing the other person to become defensive.
Recognize that you are angry about something. The minute you recognize that you are angry, it will be easier to plan a way to release the anger in an effective and constructive way. Though you might feel like throwing a plate at your partner's head, there are other ways to handle it. Know that a resolution is necessary and plan accordingly. You might want to set a time to talk, or choose to write a letter.
Always start a conversation with "I feel..." When you start a conversation with "I feel..." the other person is forced to listen. As long as they are not feeling attacked, whatever you say with "I feel..." is all about you, and not about them, therefore there is no need to go on the defensive.
No one likes to be told what to do or be reminded of what they did wrong, so it is best to avoid the word, "You," as in "You never listen to me. You always come home late. You always steal the remote control." This puts the person on the defensive immediately, and an argument could ensue. By saying, "I feel sad when you come home late because I enjoy spending time with you," sets the tone in a civilized way.
If it is impossible to communicate directly to the person, writing a letter is very helpful. Sometimes writing the letter without actually delivering it is all it takes to get the anger out. Following the same advice of writing how you feel instead of accusing them, serves the same purpose. Begin with "I feel..." and go from there.
Learning to listen to what your partner has to say is a key component of communication. It is a lot easier to listen to someone about their feelings, rather than have a finger pointed at them. This helps keep anger levels from rising, and arguing to a minimum.
Tips & Warnings
Always start the conversation with "I feel..." instead of "You..."
Keep your voice steady, and speak from the heart.
If talking directly to a person is difficult, a letter may be the answer.