Addiction brings about a lot of conflict and emotions tend to run high so it’s quite understandable that practicing good communication skills is especially challenging. Give yourself grace and just keep trying to improve. There are some tried and true guidelines that are useful to mention here:
- Don’t argue with someone when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Try to choose your words well so that the true issue is addressed and you don’t get waylaid by other issues.
- Listen well even when it is hard.
- Ask questions rather than tell others what they should do.
- Clarify at the end of the conversation what you both agreed to do.
Some helpful principles to follow when dealing with conflict include the following:
- You can choose to remain calm even though your feelings are far from calm. Take deep breaths and choose to control you voice.
- We each want to be heard and understood. Model this by reflecting back to your partner what he or she is saying. You can say, “So what you’re saying is…”
- Watch your non-verbal communication. An angry scowl, crossed arms, looking at your watch, etc. send the wrong message.
- Resist responding until you hear all the person is trying to say. We are often formulating our response while the person is speaking—try to not do that as it causes you to miss hearing all of the other person’s message.
- Avoid extremes like always, never, and everyone.
- Avoid leading questions that put words in the other person’s mouth. Instead, ask open-ended questions and reflect back what they said.
- Try to listen with empathy. It’s important that we try to see things from their point of view and recognize they may have feelings about something that you don’t understand but can empathize with them over.
- If you are not getting anywhere with a conversation, feel free to table it for a while and choose to think it over before addressing it again. Sometimes sleeping on it will give insights that you simply can’t come up with otherwise.
Lastly, get help to resolve conflict. We so often try to figure things out on our own but wise counsel can be indispensable