Hello, loves. Today we’re going to talk about the key to communication within relationships. It’s such a big, important thing—and a hard thing, especially if you or your partner isn’t super great at it.
Now, I have a bit of a different take on the key to communication. If you ask me, the reason communication breaks down in the first place is this: I don’t think that it’s actually a communication problem. I firmly believe it’s a fucking honesty problem…and a curiosity problem.
When I say it’s an honesty problem, I don’t just mean that we’re lacking honesty with our partners; we’re actually lacking honesty within ourselves.
What happens is this: we get triggered, and then we get hyper focused on our emotions. Say, for instance, that we’re angry. We fixate on that: “I’m angry. Oh my God, I’m so angry.” And when that happens, we start associating other things that have made us angry with this current situation. We start looping in these stories about what he did or how he’s hurt us or what he’s done to piss us off. A lot of people will get into blame, shame, pointing the finger, all of that.
If you’re doing that, guess what? You’re not going to be able to communicate. And even if you do communicate, they’re not going to want to hear you, because you’re blaming them for all your problems.
Here’s my first bit of advice for finding the key to communication: you need to take some fucking responsibility for your actions. You cannot have a healthy relationship if you are unwilling to take responsibility for your actions, your words, and even your projections—both conscious and unconscious. And if you’re with someone who continuously refuses to take responsibility for their words, their actions, how they’re showing up in the relationship, and there’s no accountability…what the fuck are you even doing in that relationship?
After my last breakup over a year ago, I told myself I was never, never, never ever ever doing that again. Having a partner who was able to take responsibility for their shit became a requirement for me. And if you’ve done programs with me, you know that if I’m asking for that in another person, I damn sure better be able to do that myself.
This is where the idea of honesty being the key to communication comes in: we need to be honest with ourselves about what the fuck is actually going on with us. Because otherwise, we get really angry, we get stuck in our fucking ego and start looping the victim story, and we don’t actually stay curious.
If you’re wanting to find the key to communication, you have to stay curious about what’s coming up for you. Let’s try a hypothetical: let’s say your partner leaves, and he doesn’t take the trash out. You’re pissed because you asked twice already, and you’re like, “Fuck you. You never do what I ask you to do.”
Pause. Is that really what’s going on here?
Instead, what if you got curious? Instead of raging, you stop and ask yourself what’s coming up for you? You can master the key to communication just by getting curious about your triggers so you don’t keep looping the same fucking shit, because that’s what people are doing.
It’s not that you’re lacking the proper skills to communicate. It’s not a communication thing. It’s that you don’t want to be judged. You don’t want someone to be upset with you. So you’re not only having an honesty problem and a lack of curiosity, but now you’re encountering a codependency problem.
Think about this: where are you taking responsibility for someone else’s feeling? If you’re taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings, that is codependency. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
We can’t be taking responsibility for other people’s feelings. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t consider other people’s feelings. You don’t have to deliver your honesty in a hurtful way, but you can share what’s on your mind and what’s on your heart in a way that shows a soft front and a strong back.
The best way to share is when you know your heart is open, you’re not under your ego, you’re curious, and you’re staying strong in your boundaries.
That’s the other reason curiosity is the key to communication: are you even curious about what’s going on for them? Are you curious about why they haven’t taken the trash out? Rather than, “I’ve asked twice. What’s wrong with you? You never listen,” try, “I’ve asked twice, and they haven’t done it. I’m curious as to what’s going on.”
We’ve completely lost the art of curiosity in relationships. Here’s why I know it’s the key to communication: my partner and I have a monthly relationship check-in, and sometimes things are said that are triggering. We ask each other questions, and he may give an answer that catches me off guard.
When that happens, I do my best to take a moment to process, breathe, and feel what’s happening in my body. And he’ll check in and say, “I’m curious, what’s going on for you right now?” And I get to tell him, “Oh, I just noticed that as you shared that with me, I felt a lot of tension in my body.” And once I’ve communicated that rather than reacting from a place of feeling triggered, we can go into what else is there for me.
I’ve shared this quote many times. It’s from Esther Perel, and I’m paraphrasing here, but she says, “Trust isn’t the notion that we will never hurt each other. It’s the idea that we will hurt each other, and then we will make attempts to repair.”
In the end, that’s really what communication is. It’s not the huge expectation that you need to be perfect and you have to get it right every single time. Because here’s the other thing: you could be epic at communicating, and your partner not so much, due to lack of skill. Because communication is a skill. They might not how to communicate properly or have trauma surrounding that area. So you could have mastered the key to communication yourself, but if they’re continuously criticizing, stonewalling, getting defensive, or treating you with contempt, there’s not much you can do. So I don’t want you to put it all on yourself and think you just need to clean up your side if there’s an issue.
Of course, you always want to clean up your own backyard. Always stop to see what role you are playing, because you’re always playing a role. I don’t care what you tell me. Even if he was an absolute dickhead, you’re playing a role by making yourself available for that. But it isn’t always entirely on you.
Like I said, for me, one piece of curiosity is noticing what’s happening in my body when something triggers me. And if you’re not accustomed to stopping and recognizing when something is happening like that, then you should come join my program Connected Woman, because that’s actually the place where we work on you getting deeply, deeply, deeply connected to yourself.
For most people, when their partner says, “How is that feeling for you?”, even if they understand that the key to communication is curiosity, they don’t think to get curious about checking in with their body. But for me, my first response is to notice that I felt really contracted in my chest when my partner said something. Or maybe my belly got really tight, or maybe I started feeling really hot.
Instead, most people just react outwardly. They say, “Oh, it’s fine,” or, “Why the fuck would you say that?” And when we do that, we’re going directly into the mind, bypassing the wisdom of the body entirely.
That’s a mistake, because communication is really about giving language to what’s happening in the body. And if you don’t know what’s happening in the body, you’re not going to have the right tools to express what’s happening for you.
We need to give language to what’s happening in the body, which is why we need to connect to the body. If we’re stuck in ego and focused on our emotions, we’re not going to connect to the body, because every time we try, it’s going to kick us out.
If this is resonating and you haven’t joined Connected Woman yet, seriously, do yourself a favor and get into that. It’s not going to run again until closer to the end of the year, so this is your chance.
You can also join Main Character Energy, which is about delusional confidence. Or you can join both together (they’re designed to go hand-in-hand!) and save a bit of money, which is pretty cool. No matter what, these programs will definitely help you with your ability to effectively communicate.
If you’re ready to step into your own era of delusional confidence, sign up for my six-week course, Main Character Energy, starting in early January: https://michellepanning.thrivecart.com/main-character-energy/
If you want to go from feeling anxious AF about your love life to feeling confident, secure, and having unfuckwithable self-worth, join my program The Connected Woman, starting in early February: https://michellepanning.com/the-connected-woman
Can’t choose? You don’t have to! Get the Main Character Energy and The Connected Woman BUNDLE: https://michellepanning.thrivecart.com/hot-girl-shit-bundle-tcw-mce/
Join The Hotline, a 4-week group Voxer container for you to plug into my mind: https://michellepanning.thrivecart.com/the-hotline/
Be sure to connect with me over on Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were. Or head over to my website to learn more about how we can work through your relationship journey together.
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”