Conversations with Parents | A Lesson in Communication Styles
After a long-winded conversation with my friends on Saturday about different personality traits - not only in terms of dating but also within family dynamics, I was reminded of this fact again after having long-winded conversations with my parents (separately as they are divorced).
Sometimes a conversation with parents has a way of making a detour to visit issues, conflicts, and misunderstandings that happened during childhood. The discussion started off light-hearted but somehow ended with me (or maybe both of us) having to close our phones or else we would just keep filling our heads with thoughts that stir up unpleasant feelings.
Then I was reminded again that this is not how to communicate with my mother. I cannot communicate with my mother who is emotionally driven like how I would communicate with my father who is logically driven. Suddenly, I shifted the way I communicated and I received the response I wanted from my mother.
When communicating with my dad who is driven by logic, I have to use facts, reasons, and numbers to prove my point and get his support. When I use my emotions such as stating how I feel, how others feel, begging, or pleading, he would walk away feeling frustrated not knowing how to respond to the display of emotions. From his point of view, I start acting “irrational".
On the other hand, when I use the same approach - using facts, logic, and reasons - to communicate with my mother, she feels that I don’t understand and don’t care about how she feels. And when people feel that you don’t care about how they feel, they can get defensive. So they may start saying things they don’t actually mean, but it’s actually a way for them to communicate their hurt.
Being 34 today, I have learned and grown so much as a person. I have learned to reflect and become mindful and aware of how I communicate with different people. After all, communication is a two-way street. It is not enough to understand how you communicate and process information. You have to understand how the other person communicates, receives, and processes information because what you think you are interpreting might be received completely differently.
The same way goes with how two siblings might feel completely differently about their parents’ parenting styles even though they grow up with the same parents in the same household. This is due to differences in personality traits and communication styles. One sibling may love being encouraged to grow their independence and self-reliance, while the other may feel abandoned and unloved.
Why did I bring this up today? I just wanted to spread awareness because I believe this topic is important and we all should be aware of it.
Mismatch in communication styles can create many unresolved conflicts between people - close friends, siblings, couples, family members, and even colleagues! Only when you learn to recognize and be aware of not only your own communication style, but also others’ communication styles that you can create deeper bonds and heal from childhood traumas caused by differences.
It is important to remember that at the end of the day, we all want love, acceptance, and understanding from the people we love and care about. No one wants to create conflicts. No one wants to argue and fight. Understanding these differences and learning to adjust and adapt can save you a lot of heartache and headache. After all, we cannot change, adjust, or adapt our communication style overnight - it requires a lot of practice and patience. So, start now so that when you meet people with different communication styles, it becomes easier to adjust, adapt, and create bonds with fewer conflicts.
I wish you the best of luck on your human journey.