5 Ways to Clear Up Miscommunication

Originally posted on May 18, 2015…revamped April 5, 2019…

What to write? What would be important and helpful for others to hear about? After some thinking and asking around, it hit me, miscommunication in relationships! Oh how this happens to us all, right!? I also thought this might be a relevant topic as my husband and I are finishing up a marriage series at church. 

Here is an example from my own life. How can you relate? 

My husband and I recently had this major miscommunication. It was on one of those days that we both had really good intentions (I mean don’t we always) where we had a date night planned and I was practicing some really good self-care earlier in the day. First, I went to get a massage, then off to go shopping for some new outfits to impress the hubby. My husband had planned a pedicure for me in the late afternoon while he was getting a massage (he was practicing good self-care too), then we would go to dinner together. 

Well, before I knew it time got away from me while I was shopping so I texted my husband and told him that instead of us riding together, I would meet him at the spa so neither of us would be late to our appointments. So I did as I said. I went to the spa and arrived while he was getting his massage. My first clue that we had had a miscommunication was that the front desk receptionist did not have me down for my pedicure appointment (strange I thought, but figured that maybe the staff who booked the appointment just forgot to put my name down), but they did have an opening for my specific appointment time. 

I went on back to get my pedicure, thoroughly enjoying it, then about the time my husband was to be done with his massage, I began to watch out for him. Nothing (my second clue), I did not see him so I thought oh maybe he is out in the waiting area of the spa. I finished my pedicure, went to the waiting area, NO SIGN of him (third clue). I was starting to fume. Where was he, what has happened!? From the waiting room, I called him (which was a big no no at the spa, no phones aloud) and he answered. He asked me if I was okay, told me that he had called me and my mom who was in town (who also became worried), and that he was worried sick about my whereabouts. I asked him where he was and why wasn’t he here. Turns out, we ended up at two different locations of the same spa. Then the blame game began. He said “Well if we rode together in the first place, you would not have needed to know which location we were going to.” I said “If you would have just told me which location in the first place (to which I was closer to when I was shopping) then we would not have had this miscommunication.”

We were on two completely different pages yet thinking we were on the same page!

What have I learned about communication from this experience and over the several years I have been married? While I write these tips from the perspective of my marriage, they can be helpful for any relationship, friendship, etc.

  • Ask questions and be clear/specific when giving information with your spouse or partner.

  • Summarize what you heard the other say. “What I heard you say was _________.”

  • Use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ statements. For example, “Babe, I felt embarrassed when I ended up at the other spa location.” Rather than “You make me embarrassed. when ______.” The later causes the other person to become defensive which can escalate any conflict.

  • Check in with your partner every once in a while via text or a phone call. Connect with one another on a regular basis. Have date nights regularly!

  • Let your spouse or partner know what you need. Do you need them to listen to you as you talk? Do you need them to help you brainstorm ways to fix a problem? What is it that you need from them?

After hashing through this conflict, we still had our date night even though it would have been easier not too. At the end of the day, I love my husband and I am committed to keeping our marriage communication lines open. We look back on this conflict and chuckle at it now. We both learned alot that day and really each day we are married.

P.S. In wanting to be completely honest with my readers, I did have my husband read over this blog post before I sent it out into the world. Just in case you were wondering, he gave the green light to publish it!

Until the next time…Bethie

The LOVE Sandwich

Originally posted on March 11, 2016…resurrected today April 3, 2019…

Oftentimes I see clients who are interested in practicing better communication skills whether it be with their spouse, partner, coworkers, boss, family members or others.

Desiring close connection and intimacy in relationship with others will mean that we have to have hard, challenging conversations at times throughout our lives.

Conversations that we may just not want to have. I get it. I have been there too. I have had to have difficult conversations on numerous occasions.

I also like to practice what I preach. And something I preach to my clients is what I call the LOVE SANDWICH. Picture a HAM sandwich or whatever meat or middle part you like. That sandwich consists of a piece of bread, ham/meat, other condiments such as veggies or maybe chips and then you put the other slice of bread on top to finish the sandwich.

Your hard conversation is like that sandwich.

Start with that piece of bread in your conversation. The first slice of bread represents sharing positive attributes such as compliments, things done well, or things working well in your relationship.

Next THE MEAT: Then give them the meat and veggies of the conversation. This part represents the more challenging aspects of your relationship such as things not working so well, things needed different, or changes that are required for the relationship to reach is potential. THAT HARD MEATY part of your conversation might include speaking your honest truth about something. 

And the last SLICE OF BREAD: Close the conversation sandwich by putting on that top piece of bread and give them another compliment, thank them for talking, remind them again what is working well in your relationship.

And their you have it, you have just given someone “The Love Sandwich”. The whole conversation, the whole sandwich was intended and given in love, even the hard, meaty part.

Regardless of how the other person responds, when you speak to someone using this approach you are setting the example of health and maturity. You are setting a tone of intention and well-meaning in your relationship. You are being a role-model and who does not want to be a role-model, right?

Here is an example from my own life:

Recently, I had a conversation with my husband around what is working well and not so well around our morning routine. I started by sharing what is working well (the first slice). I informed him that his feeding the dogs and helping our daughter with her morning chores was incredibly helpful. Next, I gave him the meat. I stated what I needed from him which is more assistance with getting breakfast together and other food preparation for the day. Then I closed the conversation by telling him that I am not getting on to him, but I am sharing my needs with him around other ways he can support me. I thanked him (the last slice) for what he is doing around our morning routine and our conversation was done.

I have found in the years of practicing this that our conversations go much more smoothly rather than turning into a big yelling match. We both spoke calmly and were clear in our communication during this conversation.

So whether you have a one time conversation or a conversation that lasts over several days, it is incredibly helpful to use this technique when communicating with others. I encourage you to try it out and see what happens. What did you notice?

No matter how big or small the difference, you are beginning to make some headway towards healthier communication. I commend you for being brave!

Until the next story…Bethie