What Forms of Communication Do You Use in Your Relationship?
In times of stress and conflict, people naturally move to their dominant communication style, and they're not even aware of it. When it comes to intimate and loving relationships, it's really important to understand and know what forms of communication you and your partner use.
Because the dominant forms of communication shut down all your other senses. Your "normal" way of communicating goes out of the window when you're under stress or in the middle of an argument with your partner!
Do you know what your communication style is?
Do you know your partner's communication type? Knowing your styles will support you and your partner to better understand another person, improve your relationship, and communicate better, particularly during difficult situations when you're probably having a disagreement.
As individuals, we use our senses when we interact with others to make "sense" of our world. We see the person (see/visual), we hear them (hear/tonal), we feel or sense things (feel/kinesthetic), and we think/process information (think/digital). Effective communication involves nonverbal cues and verbal cues.
For instance, nonverbal communication can include eye contact, body language, and facial expressions. Verbal communication between two people can include things such as listening to one another, and talking about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
When you are relaxed and are not under stress, you use all of these senses. However, one is more dominant than the rest. When you're stressed, it's a very different story. For example, when you are having a blazing row with your partner, you might think:
"She's wrong and I'm right."
Or, "He just doesn't see things the way I do."
Or, your partner is "Just not listening to you."
Or, "If I could just make things right, they won't be angry at me."
There is a perfectly good explanation for all this, and more!
When you are under stress (for whatever reason), your body has the feeling of "fight," "Flight," or "freeze" and your senses "shut down." You go into "survival" mode and your "reptilian" brain kicks in. Your energies get out of alignment and you feel unbalanced.
According to Donna Eden, there are four types of communication and people favor their dominant sensory style. The forms of communication are: seeing, hearing, feeling, or thinking, which you're apparently born with.
So there is no blame, shame, or believing one style is better than another. You are who you are, but knowing what happens to you when you're under stress can greatly improve communication and reduce conflict in your relationship!
Issues and problems can arise when you're under stress.
When you're under stress, you move into your "dominant" form of communication. The same will also apply to your partner when they're under stress.
Your dominant style may clash with your partner's dominant style. That's why some relationships experience more fireworks than others when there's an argument. Unfortunately, some people may experience family violence and the non violent partner knows exactly what is going to happen and when; the signs are there.
Understanding their violent partner's nonverbal and verbal communication is an important part of the process for them to remain safe.
The following are examples of how the different forms of communication work:
Tonals are analytical and have the ability to access their head and heart. They can hear in-between the lines of what their partner says, and hear what was "never said." Tonals can be hurt and offended by the tone of their partner's voice. They can "perceive" words as put-downs and take it personally, even when it's not meant that way.
Tonals can believe things are against them and have the habit of bringing up the past in disagreements. They may revert to withdrawing so they can ignore the noise/words from their partner and of the external world. Tonals pick up "vibes."
When under stress, tonals move into their dominant sensory style, hearing. Because their "hearing" has "shut down" tonals do not hear what is said to them when they're stressed. They cannot hear what their partner is trying to tell them. They can only hear their own voice, which may be self-critical.
It's not a choice. Tonals are not trying to be difficult. It is just how it is. The more a person shouts, the more a tonal will move into stress, the less they can hear their partner.
A tonal/auditory/hearing sensory type finds it difficult to hear the other person's point of view when they are having an argument with their partner. A tonal only hears their "own" point of view.
To a kinesthetic, it is all about feelings!
A kinesthetic finds it difficult to "not" feel empathy for their partner and they want to make things right. However, the partner may find it difficult to say no and have no boundaries. The conversation is all about their partner and trying to work out how to fix the problem. They are very much in the "here and now" and have difficulty accessing memories of the past, or words to explain what they mean.
Kinesthetics can feel emotionally exhausted when they have a disagreement with their partner. They want to get their message across and get their partner to understand how they feel. They can feel very alone, isolated, and confused in the relationship when there is conflict.
A kinesthetic cannot think clearly; their brain is "scrambled." They find it difficult to find the words to explain how they are feeling and generally lose an argument, particularly if their partner's dominant form of communication is digital. They may become a bit of a "blubbering wreck" and they feel weak and stupid for not being able to get their point of view across.
Digitals/thinkers use their logical brain and do not see situations and issues from their partner's perspective; they believe they are right and that is that! It is the digital's way or the highway.
Digitals do not go into feelings and cannot hear or see their partner’s point of view. Empathy goes out of the window when a digital is under stress.
They are very logical and disconnected from their body; digitals live in their head. A partner can get very frustrated with a digital because they appear unemotional and dismissive of feelings. The time a partner needs support, love, and connection the most is when they're under stress, and stress is when a digital disconnects from their ability to feel their partner's pain.
Digitals do "not" like emotions, and when their partner displays emotions such as crying, it turns them off. The irony is, digitals are more likely to be in a relationship with a partner who is their opposite dominant sensory style, a partner who reverts to their feelings; kinesthetics!
A visual has difficulties seeing things and issues from their partner's perspective. They can only see their own point of view.
They have the ability to use powerful stares and can glare at their partner when under stress, to intimidate. If you're a visual, you may have been accused of giving that "look," you know, "that look." Visuals have to look someone directly in the eyes and if they are with someone who avoids eye-contact, they believe the person is ignoring them and "checking out."
Visuals see exactly what is going on. They see what their partner is doing "wrong" in the relationship. They believe they're giving advice and support to their partner, but their partner will see it as criticism. Visuals see and criticize what they "believe" they see is wrong!
What forms of communication do you use in your relationship?
Have you worked it out yet?
If not, why not take Donna Eden's free energetic stress style quiz, which takes approximately 7 minutes to do, so you and your partner can identify what forms of communication take place in your relationship, just click the button below to be taken to the quiz.
Moving Forward—Relationship Advice
- The first step is to set aside time for you and your partner to develop strategies for when you're triggered. What are you going to do/agree to do when you can see yourself or your partner moving into the reptilian style of communication?
- The second step is having the ability to recognize you're in a situation that has triggered you and you're in "survival" mode and have moved into your primal/reptilian response.
- The third step is a matter of having the gumption to "stop" the conflict so you and your partner have the chance to realign your energy and move out of survival mode. When you pay attention and have a deeper understanding of what's going on for you and your partner, you will be able to build intimacy and have healthy communication. This will have a profound effect on your relationship with your partner!
Tonals have the ability to withdraw, close down, and go inwards. To help you to open up and balance, taking several deep breaths.
Visuals will balance more quickly when they blow out built-up frustration. Make several big and forceful blows out through the mouth.
Digitals are in the head. To connect to the body, use verbal words to instruct yourself to feel your body. For instance, tell yourself, "Feel the ground you're standing on." Then tell yourself to place your hands on your chest. Place your hands on your chest. Digitals will quickly move out of their heads and connect to their bodies.
Kinesthetics energy is very scrambled and they need to reconnect and align. The quickest and simplest way is to cross your legs and arms then take several deep breaths.
Next time you have an argument with your partner, and experience a ‘"fight," "flight," or "freeze" moment, consider your form of communication and how it may be impacting on your ability to resolve a problem in your relationship.
Knowing your partner's energetic stress style will also help you to understand why they may not see things from your point of view, and vice versa; you will communicate better with your partner.
Understanding the forms of communication and how they're interrelated supports you and your partner to quickly change your energy so you can quickly realign, resolve conflict and positively move forward.
Looking forward to connecting!
Relationship Coach and Dating Coach
Coach 2 Connect
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