I've Been There

Communication tip #1


We learn to talk when we’re babies. But being able to understand what other people are saying, and be understood ourselves, can take a lifetime.


Emily and her ex-boyfriend Josh

Josh and Emily are parents to baby Oliver. Josh and Emily don’t live together, but Josh is starting to look after Oliver on Saturdays. Oliver’s first birthday is on the next Saturday he is supposed to spend with his Dad, but Emily wants to throw him a party.


Emily texts Josh:I’m having a party for Oli next Saturday so you won’t be able to have him.
Josh:Why would you decide to have a party on the one day I see him?
Emily:It’s his birthday. Like you’d even remember.
Josh:You’re a cow, maybe I had something planned. But it’s always what you want!!
Emily:You had something planned?
Josh:I’ll be picking Oli up at 9am as usual. Too bad. Deal with it.
Emily:Well maybe we just won’t be here.


So no one ended up happy at the end of this. Josh and Emily did some things here that really weren’t helpful like: 

  • Trying to force their way on someone else (I’m doing this)
  • Name calling (calling her a cow)
  • Making threats (we won’t be here)


So how could Emily and Josh solved this issue so that both were happy? 


The conversation might run like this: 


Emily:You know how it’s Oli’s birthday on Saturday. I really want to make a big deal of it and have a party for him. Would that be ok with you?
Josh:Yeah me and Mum wanted to do something too. What time’s the party?
Emily:2 o clock. You could have him Friday night and bring him over or pick him up after?
Josh:Ok. I’ll talk to Mum and get back to you.
Emily:Sweet. Sounds good.


So this time Emily clearly said how she was feeling (wanting to make a big deal of the birthday) and what she wanted. Both Josh and Emily were willing to listen to each other’s point of view and are more likely to both be happy with the outcome.


Sometimes it’s good to think before you text. If you’re really angry then go and finish the dishes or watch TV for a bit before you reply.


Of course, things won’t work out perfectly each time you try and there’s only so much you can do to change things by yourself.


But by thinking about how you express your needs and trying to communicate a little differently you may increase your chances of getting what you want.