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Communicating One Brief Point at a Time
May 31, 2012

Talk About Your Perspective
May 31, 2012

Communicating Feelings First
Apr 02, 2012

How Effective Communication Helps You Deal With Situations In Divorce
Mar 15, 2012

Communicating Feelings First

If in doubt as to whether to share feelings or issues first I suggest starting with sharing feelings. Quite often complications occur in conversations trying to work out issues when strong feelings exist in one person or the other that are not dealt with first. Often people do not even recognize or may overlook the effect on communication when strong feelings exist. Of course the idea of discussing feelings first may depend on the type of conversation you are having. Some conversations will require a simple decision; others may be information gathering conversations which do not require sharing feelings first. However, if communication has broken down and even if what you are trying to discuss is fairly simple, often it is helpful to structure the conversation to discussing feelings first. **


I suggest discussing as wide a range of feelings as possible when trying to communicate painful feelings. Often multiple feelings are being experienced in a conversation which cannot be resolved by expressing only a few feelings (full feeling range is discussed in section I3). For example, if I state that I am feeling sad and angry when I am feeling hurt, lonely, disappointed, frustrated, scared and confused; I may not feel better and may become more frustrated as a result. Using a list of feeling words to choose from may be helpful to express a broader and more accurate range of feelings. It is important to watch out for cover up feelings such as anger which is often used to cover up or mask more vulnerable feelings such as hurt or sadness. Feelings of hurt or sadness can also be used to cover up other feelings such as anger or frustration. Discussing a broad and accurate range of feelings may involve describing a number of feeling words, some that may apply and some that may not in trying to discover the feeling words that match what is being felt. If a particular feeling word does not apply you can move on to the next feeling word until you hit the feeling word that does apply. **


In expressing feelings and trying to keep feelings and issues separate, there may still be a need to refer to the issue. Some people can describe that they are experiencing feelings like hurt and sadness and then they feel better whereas others need to say they feel hurt and sad and then briefly comment on why they feel hurt and sad to feel better. I think it is ok to briefly discuss why you feel the way you do. I recommend, however, keeping the details of why the feelings are there short, factual and expressed from your perspective, otherwise you may find yourself getting away from dealing with just the feelings. Some people find it helpful putting off dealing with the issues while discussing feelings by having an agreement where they know ahead of time that the issues will be discussed right after the feelings are dealt with. After both people have shared their feelings accurately and have felt heard, they may now be able to more objectively deal with the issues. Problem solving issues that seemed difficult previously may seem much easier or even self evident after hearing each other’s feelings and simply exploring the issues in a positive manner. Note that after moving on to discuss the issue, new feelings may surface which may require both people to revert back to discussing feelings again before being able to finish discussing the issue. **