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Communication And Self-Management- The Key To Reducing Stress In A Relationship

Aug 17, 2007
Most relationships, whether professional or personal, have the potential of causing stress in the lives of people. When you experience stress in a relationship, you tend to let it take control of how you feel and what you do. You also have a tendency of doing things more unhappily and in a hurried manner. This results in your becoming either aggressive when dealing with others in order to release the stress, or becoming submissive as a way to hide the stress. While aggressiveness may make you feel better temporarily, you soon begin feeling stressed even further because of hurting another person, whereas by hiding your stress by being submissive, you internalize it and hurt yourself emotionally, and thus cause further stress in your relationships. Relationships that are chronically stressful can have a negative impact on your spiritual, emotional and physical health.

When stressed, your manner of communication will alter when you respond to a stressful situation that goes beyond your threshold of tolerance. The kind of behavior most people choose to manage a situation they find stressful will usually be something that they have used in the past, which they feel protected, them. It is an inbuilt human instinct to heed internal factors while blocking out external ones. However, by blocking out external issues, like the feelings of other people, and listening to only your internal factors, you impinge negatively on your interpersonal communication skills.

In order to have relationships that are free of stress, you require motivation, commitment, positive intent, and learning and using certain skills to manage stress, so that it does not overcome you and your relationships. Apart from developing effective techniques of communication and the ability to resolve conflicts in an equitable manner, these skills include changing certain behaviors and habits, and the way we think. Fortunately, practically everyone can learn these skills, although it is only when we choose to actually put them into practice that we can have relationships that are truly free of stress. Here are a few communication and self-management techniques that you can acquire which will help you to reduce stress in your relationships:

Preventing Stress:
One of the most effective ways of stress management is to prevent either yourself or other people from getting to high levels of stress. Reducing a problem by preventing it is considered to be one of the best self-management skills that can be acquired.

Understanding Yourself:
Controlling your emotions and managing yourself are important skills that need to be acquired. When under stress, you ought to be attentive about how you treat the other person, and whether you are doing it appropriately. If not, you need to understand that you are under stress, the reason for the stress, and the methods of managing the stress.

Listening Effectively:
This involves letting the other person, whether your spouse, partner or colleague, talk. Later, you can rephrase what has been said, and if some point may be unclear, asking questions in order to clarify it and be more informed.

Expressing Your Thoughts:
Most of us are conditioned from an early age that it is selfish to express what we actually feel or really want. However, not expressing our real feelings and needs results in communication that is ineffective, which increases stress in a relationship.

Staying Focused: Generally, especially in personal relationships, people have a tendency of bringing up past conflicts, which seem related, while dealing with existing ones. However, this usually has the effect of clouding the issue, making it less likely of arriving at an understanding that is mutual and resolving the current stressful situation. Try avoiding bringing up hurts of the past or some other issues. Remain focused on the current issue, the way you are feeling, and resolving the situation by understanding each other.

Seeing The Viewpointof Others:
When there is conflict in a relationship, most people want to be heard and feel that they are understood. We usually try to make the other person see our point of view. However, when we do this, the other person feels that his/her viewpoint is being ignored, which leads to each person feeling misunderstood. It is often better to first find out side of the matter of other person, and then express yours. When other people feel that they are being heard, they are usually more open to listening to your point of view.

Responding Empathetically To Criticism:
When criticized, most people become defensive as they usually feel that the person doing the criticism is wrong. Although it is hard to listen to criticism, and it often is exaggerated or is biased by the emotions being felt by the person making the criticism, it is often an expression of pain felt by that person, which you need to listen and respond to empathetically. Also, the criticism could have some truth in it, which can be a valuable source of information that you can use to make changes in your behavior.

While being rewarding and fulfilling, most relationships can be quite complex. Most people know that they need to respect and love their partners and members of the family, while also getting along with colleagues and friends. Those who can understand their own feelings, have the ability of assuming responsibility for them, and can learn the skills of communicating descriptively and unambiguously are most likely to have stress-free relationships.
About the Author
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