Unless you live on a deserted island and have never interacted with another person, you’ve experienced what I call ‘Communication Demons’. Every relationship has them. They come in different forms and can be subtle or pronounced. No matter what form they present, they share one common characteristic. They destroy.
Before we discuss how to slay your Communication Demons, let’s identify and understand what the most common ones are. In future articles, we will further investigate each demon individually. For Traits Of Toxic Parents the purposes of this article, let’s just get a basic understanding of each one and how they play into the communication difficulties we experience in our interpersonal relationships.
Common Communication Demons
One of the greatest challenges in effective communication. Passive-Aggressiveness involves acting out anger or resentments rather than dealing with the situation head on. If you’re faced with a passive-aggressive partner, you don’t know where you stand; you may think the passive-aggressive is your friend, so you open up without realizing you risk being sabotaged or attacked. The passive-aggressive mode of operation is: “I will be agreeable to your face, but behind your back, I will do things to make you suffer.” Passive-Aggressive traits can also inter-mingle with Conflict Avoidance and vice versa. Passive-Aggressive communication attempts to control, manipulate, and punish.
When faced with conflict or the possibility of conflict, the conflict avoider believes that expressing anger or frustration is to risk losing control, hurting someone else’s feelings, damaging the relationship, or appearing to be rude or a ‘bad’ person. This happens when there is a significant ingrained fear, resentment or conflict and an inability or unwillingness to navigate through it. Unfortunately, this creates the very thing that is trying to be avoided – more conflict! All great long-lasting relationships require productive conflict in order to grow. Avoiding conflict prevents any healthy discussion and there is very little hope for negotiation or agreement. Resentments grow with both partners – the avoider for not being able to express their true feelings, needs, and wants, and the partner for feeling shut out, diminished, unheard, and blamed. The faulty belief in conflict avoidance is that conflict is bad and does not happen in ‘good’ relationships. The truth is that conflict happens in all relationships. It isn’t the conflict that is bad; it is how we navigate through it. Properly navigating through conflict is how we gain greater understanding, resolve issues to prevent hidden resentments, and enable both partners to feel valued, heard, and respected. Fear of conflict results in artificial harmony and erodes true intimacy. Remember, conflict is a puzzle to solve not a battle to fight.