What Is Your Communication Style? What Makes You Feel Safe?

Do you feel safe when communicating with your spouse or friend? I don’t mean fear of physical harm. What I mean is that you may wonder, why am I feeling stressed right now, they don’t seem to be? It may be because you and that person have different communication styles. Drs Les and Leslie Parrot wrote about safety in communication and they identified 4 categories. 

The first one they labeled Time. Do you get stressed if you feel like your time is not being used well? I am one of these people and once I sense the conversation has slowed then I am ready to move on to the next thing. No use wasting time right? Well if you are not like this then you might be more comfortable with a slower pace, you like to just slow down and it takes you time to process as we are communicating. 

The second is called Approval. If this is you then you are influenced by emotions and feelings. If you sense that the person you are communicating with you is not approving of you then this is stressful. Some people really don’t care how you respond to what they are saying, they are more concerned with facts and information, not feelings. That may sound harsh but it is true. You also might use feelings to influence people, in your persuasion you include feeling words not just facts.

The third is Loyalty. This title is a little confusing to me but it has to do with a predictable routine. Does change and spontaneity cause you to be fearful or anxious? Are you resistant to change? When your friend or spouse drops a surprise change on you does this cause you to feel unsafe and it is hard to communicate at that time? You need a warning so I think the word loyalty is about being consistent and reliable this brings you safety.

The last is Quality. If this is you then you want to do things well and you have a process so when your process is interrupted then it causes you stress. For example if you were buying luggage do you need to shop around, test them out, check for discounts and possibly return it because you eventually found a better deal? Or do you just go to one store, see what you need and get it, job done? Well if you are the first type then you fit in this category, you are cautious, you need to be sure and if someone rushes you through this it causes you stress. 

It is good to consider these types of communication syles. Look at yourself, where do you fit. You may fit into more than one category. It is also good to consider where the other person fits because you don’t want to cause stress in them. So if your partner is in the Loyalty category then don’t spring things on them, give them advanced warning so they have time to process the new information and get comfortable. Or if you have to make a last minute change then show compassion for who they are, don’t get frustrated this only adds to their stress. 

Learning about your own communication needs and your partners can add to the understanding and compassion in the relationship. I hope this is useful. If you need more help and support please call 562-260-4796.

Written by Lisa Strong

Why Do We Stay in an Unhealthy Relationship?

Sometimes I get a call and they tell me this situation, they are not married, have no kids and have been with their partner for many years but they fight all the time. They can’t be together for an entire day without fighting. Then I am told that they want to work on the relationship to make it better, to find a way to communicate that will work. I ask them, “Why do you want to stay in the relationship?” and they tell me it is because they love their partner or when it is good, it is wonderful. Why would you choose a partner that you fight with constantly? Why stay in an unhealthy relationship? 

Here are some reasons. 

1. You don’t know what a healthy relationship is. You have a low comparison level and low expectations. If you have grown up in a home that is just as unhealthy then this environment is what is expected. Sometimes I will give an example of a healthy conversation to a client and they are surprised that I am suggesting it as a possibility because it seems impossible to them. They can’t even imagine a relationship that works like that, with respect and consideration from both partners.

2. You don’t think you deserve any better and you believe the alternative would be worse. This usually occurs if the person has low self esteem. They don’t think they deserve any better than this. So they settle and continue to try to fix what they have. 

3. Your fear is holding you there. Fear of being alone, fear of being judged or laughed at, fear of not knowing where to go and fear of disappointing someone. These fears immobilize you. 

4. You are used to the drama and toxicity and you are comfortable with it. The drama is exciting, there is adrenaline that pumps in you when you fight. It is stimulating. Also some people have grown up in this sort of an environment and it is known and comfortable. There are so many people who care more about having security and comfort than they care about having peace of mind. 

When two people fight and don’t see eye to eye, sometimes it is no ones fault, it is just not a good fit. You are very different people, from different backgrounds, different values, different expectations, different desires and neither of you is wrong you are just not a match. Don’t try to force a relationship that doesn’t fit and is a continual struggle. I understand that there will be struggles in a relationship but that is not what we are talking about here. And we are not talking about staying together for the children or because you hit a rough patch after years of marriage. Those are different scenarios. 

Dating is a time to find a life partner that will be a good match for you. Don’t just settle for the wrong person because of the reasons I mentioned above. Be strong enough to walk away and try again. This is a choice that you will be dealing with for years to come so make a wise choice.


How to Know if You are Overparenting

The other day someone made the comment to me “People are so stupid.”  I thought to myself “That’s probably because they were overparented.”  Overparenting produces ill equipped, incapable, irresponsible adults who don’t know how to problem solve, how to navigate life and usually expect others to carry their burdens.  This is never the intended outcome of a parent but it is the outcome they will get.  What a disservice to their kids.

Do you overparent?  Here’s three indicators that would suggest you do.

1. Your child calls or texts you with every problem he encounters.  If your child is contacting you all throughout the day about everything, whether it’s a hang nail or a really grumpy teacher, this shows they don’t have the confidence or skill to resolve issues on their own.  It’s likely they don’t have the confidence or skill because you have not allowed them to grow emotionally as they grow physically.

2. Your child can’t handle disappointment.  No one enjoys disappointment. But disappointment should not cause a complete meltdown.  Resiliency is one of the strongest signs of good parenting. If your child has never practiced resiliency because you have done everything you can to protect him from disappointment, he will not be able to handle the inevitable adversity he will face in life.

3. Your child avoids hard work and looks for short cuts.  Kids today are used to having service providers… and by service providers I mean parents who do everything like driving, cooking, laundry, cleaning, paying for everything, etc.  This produces unrealistic expectations in your child that everything will be done for them throughout life.  So when this child (now or as an adult) needs to complete a task they see as difficult or unappealing they will do anything they can to get out of it or take a short cut.

No one reading this blog has the intention of producing incapable, irresponsible adults.  But by shielding them from hurt, hard work and disappointment we are doing just that.  It can be really difficult to change his dynamic.  But it’s possible!  Don’t lose hope.  If you need some help with it, give me a call.  You’re not alone.

Written by Lisa Smith


Don’t Mess With Tradition

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Holidays like Easter which was just last week can bring memories of family gatherings, traditions and celebration. Each family has their own unique family rituals and traditions which you may or may not look forward to. For a child growing up they come to expect certain things on these special days. Easter for my family was hidden baskets and eggs, a special lunch including Jello eggs and extended family and friends stopping by. The children woke up excited and knowing what to expect.

When events are predictable and happen the same way each day or year then a child feels in control, secure, safe and less stress. They can prepare themselves for what is to come and this can be especially helpful for children who are highly sensitive, the structure offers them stability.

They look forward to what they know from past experience is coming. Even adults do not want to change from their traditions. When I tried to change the menu on Thanksgiving and make a mashed potato casserole instead of last minute making mashed potatoes, (I was trying to simplify my work load) this idea was met with resistance. “What no mashed potatoes?” I learned  not to mess with the tradition.

A child’s daily routine brings them stability. Children learn many things from these routines, such as how to take care of themselves. Having a morning and bedtime routine for example can teach a child how to dress themselves and good hygiene. However, the most important thing we all learn from regular routines is that life runs more smoothly if things are organized and predictable. Does your child have a bedtime routine? If you forget one of the steps, bedtime story, tucking in, or a glass of water you will hear about it from your child. Again, don’t mess with routine.

Your whole family can benefit from a structured routine. There will be less stress and drama if a child knows when he/she is expected to do homework or what time dinner is. In the routine each child can play a role. One child can set the table, another clears the table and rinses the dishes. Maybe Friday night is family movie night. Take turns picking the movie, have pizza, make popcorn and everyone is together and knows what to expect.

Knowing what to expect in our hectic lives  can provide structure and stability to a child. The structure improves efficiency and the family runs more smoothly. The benefit to the family and the child is a calmer child, clear expectations, less strife and family bonding.

Written by Lisa Strong