The way we communicate with others can influence our relationships with them. The problem is that the process of exchanging words can become the trigger that can stress you out. Unfortunately, once you are stressed out by what someone else is saying, it becomes difficult to get the most out of that relationship or encounter. You know what I mean?

Here is an example. Yesterday, I called my friend whom I had not seen or spoken to for the last 3 years. We had grown apart because we had been busy dealing with work and family life. I decided to call him yesterday to find out how he was doing due to the COVID 19 pandemic. He answered the phone and before I could move on from the courtesies, he told me that he was very disappointed in me. He told me he had been through a lot, but I never bothered to call him.

I was upset by what he was saying. I wanted to point out to my friend that I was the one who called. I wanted to tell him that communication was like ping-pong, it took two people to make it work. In the end, I decided that he must be hurt and that getting into an argument would only lead to more emotional tension and more stress. I decided to listen to it and save the discussion for later. The good news was that instead of stressing me out, my approach helped me reduce tension and leave the door open for possible positive interactions in the future.

Knowing that your interaction or communication with others is part of a continuum is one of the ways you can better communicate and better handle stress. Why? It helps you keep the bridge of interaction with others open. Sometimes this will mean keeping your word and thoughts to yourself, at other times it will mean speaking in a way that reflects empathy.

This part of the effective communication process will help you reduce stress. The more you reduce stress, the less likely you are to speak out angrily or say things that you can never take back. Talking calmly even when under pressure is one of the ways you can keep your conversations with other people strategically effective.

Ask yourself questions that will help you recognize what aspects of your communication with others might be helping your relationship improve or making it harder for you to keep your relationship healthy and positive. You listen well? Do you cut others before they finish their sentences? Remember that when you communicate with others, they will interact with you from their own perspective, worldview, personality, or experience. Your own personal interest will drive the relationship more than fairness or truth. Don’t let this frustrate you or interrupt your focus on better managing stress through better communication. This is part of the self-control process for stress management.

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