Opening the Lines of Communication

Jul 28, 2014

Addictive behaviors are so damaging to relationships, and a lot of your recovery work will be focused on repairing your support system. Establishing healthy communication habits is the foundation of any good relationship, so that’s a good place to start. It’s easier said than done though, when your communication skills are rusty, and your loved ones are feeling guarded and hurt. Working with a family counselor will really help to get the ball rolling, and so will following a few talking tips.


Plan Ahead


For the really tough conversations, it’s best to think about what you need to say before hand, and come up with some reasonable responses. Make some mental notes about what questions you want to ask, and what issues you want to address. Consider what you might be able to do to help things to go smoothly, and what areas you might want to avoid this time around. Write your plan down if you think it will keep you from getting flustered.


Stay Calm


Disagreeing can be productive, but you don’t want your conversation to end in a great big fight. Choose to communicate during times when you feel calm and open. If you feel defensive and upset, ask if you can talk later. Be respectful, try not to interrupt, and listen carefully to what your loved one is saying. Stay calm, and if you don’t feel calm, take a break and pick up the conversation later.


Provide a Distraction


Sometimes a face-to-face, uninterrupted conversation is a little too intense for your current situation. Many people find it easier to open up if there’s a little distraction provided to take some of the edge off. Simply having a cup of coffee could do the trick, giving you something to sip or stare into as you gather your thoughts during pauses in the conversation. Going for a walk, working on a puzzle, or tossing a baseball back and forth can all be great ways to fill the awkward silences and keep the conversation going.


Have Patience


Re-establishing communication doesn’t come all at once. It’s going to take time to get things flowing again, and more than one attempt. If things don’t go perfectly the first time, try again. If your loved ones aren’t open to talking right now, let them know that you’ll be available when they’re ready, and then give them some space. Pushing the issue will only raise tempers and hamper communication, so be patient and let things take their natural course.