March 4, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
March 4, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Slow Down or Speed Up: Improving Communication in Relationships

Relationships can be complicated and complex. Throughout the course of our day, we interact with many different people, including co-workers, friends, our spouses and our children. Conflict is almost an inevitable outgrowth of some of these interactions. Strengthening relationships involves working on a set of tools, which involve communicating our displeasure in a thoughtful and assertive way, listening to the other party/person involved and utilizing compromise to achieve effective solutions. In this article, we will discuss why it is becoming increasingly difficult to utilize principles of communication to strengthen and improve relationships.

Pace of Communication: Communication happens at such a rapid pace that it becomes very hard to “slow down” and think about how we feel and how we wish to respond. When someone receives a communication that awakens our emotions, the need to respond immediately will often outweigh the need and necessity to respond in a more thoughtful way. Feeling that we have been placed on the defensive or are under attack by another party inevitably elicits strong and painful emotions. However, responding without proper self-awareness may only add “fuel to the fire.” Becoming self-aware involves:

  • Identifying the emotion/emotions that you are feeling
  • Regulation of body/physical changes
  • Reflecting on different possibilities/courses of action

Let’s consider each of the above points:

Consider the example of an employee who was spoken to by his boss about his poor work performance. Being able to identify feelings of worry, sadness and guilt will lead the employee to articulate a thoughtful response and resolve to implement a future plan of action to improve his performance.

Consider the example of a manager preparing a sales presentation to upper management. As he is preparing his PowerPoint slides, he begins to feel muscle tension, fatigue and changes in his body temperature. Being able to acknowledge these changes will help the employee use breathing/relaxation exercises to refocus his attention and energy.

Consider the example of a husband who was just told by his wife that he is not acting or behaving like a good father. Being able to slow down and listen to his wife’s point of view will delay his reaction and lead to a more thoughtful response.

In our next article, we will discuss how to utilize principles of assertiveness to communicate in a direct, thoughtful and non-threatening manner.

By Mark Staum


Mark Staum, LCSW, is a staff clinician at The Center For Anxiety in Monsey, NY. In his local private practice, Mark provides individual psychotherapy that utilizes the most current evidence-based treatment approaches. Mark can be reached via phone or email for any questions or inquiries.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles