The short answer? A lot. One of the biggest communication traps we can get ourselves into is that of bad timing.
Communicating how we feel or what we need isn’t always easy. There are a lot of variables to consider: recognizing what our need or feeling is, deciding whether or not we want to bring it to someone’s attention, how we are going to bring it up, who is on the receiving end of that conversation and whether or not it is going to be understood. We also need to consider when to have that conversation. The variable of timing is often overlooked and it can make the difference as to how the communication plays out. Let us consider some grounds rules for timing:
- If you are feeling angry, that isn’t the time to bring something up. We are much better served to take some space from the emotion and let our rational brain chime in as to how we want to respond.
- If you are feeling easily overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown, you may be too emotional to be able to communicate effectively. We are wise at this point to ‘sleep on it,’ or instill the 24 hour rule to see how we feel about it the next day.
- If you are exhausted, get some sleep first. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than a bleary-eyed state.
- Wanting to talk about something when getting into bed or when someone is trying to get out the door is most likely not going to go well as it creates the feeling of being blind-sided. A better option is to find an opportunity when both of you are relaxed and have the time.
- Choose a private space. Saying something in front of your in-laws, children or friends is going to add insult to injury.
Timing is an important part of communicating well. When we attempt to create a time and space for telling someone how we feel we are contributing to the health of the relationship as we are moving from the position of “I am important and so are you.”
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