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How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse

How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse

I love my wife. She is a beautiful, caring, and loving person. She has taught me a great deal about myself and how I communicate.

You see, I wasn’t always a sensitive person. I was raised to be tough and numb to feelings. I kept all feelings inside because I was not allowed to express them. My father was strict and to him feelings were nothing more than a sign of weakness. Imagine over 20 years of that type of conditioning!

As an adult, I had a difficult time expressing my true feelings to anyone because of my lack of experience with sharing while I was growing up. I do not at all place all blame on my dad — he came from an upbringing that was identical to mine, so to raise me this way was all he knew.

In my relationships, I struggled a lot with communicating my feelings. Most times, I just held it in, reverting back to my childhood conditioning.

It wasn’t until I met my wife that it all quickly began to change. She is truly a blessing to me because she is teaching me to allow my feelings to surface, to express and communicate those feelings in a way that is understandable, honest, and gentle. I wasn’t always the most careful, keen, and considerate when it came to expressing certain strong feelings like frustration and anger. Now that I have come to slowly accept my feelings as they arise, feel them, and express them considerately — both for myself and others — my life has changed for the better.

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It helps a ton that my wife is a hypersensitive person. She can sense my feelings, gauge my mood, and, with her strong sixth-sense of knowing that something’s off with me, she can somehow disable my inner barriers, allowing me to be open and free to express myself. The best part is that there are never any judgements — the space is always safe to explain my feelings. In fact, I think that’s why it got easier and easier to open up to my wife.

I’m not going to lie, her hypersensitivity sometimes scares me due to just how intuitive she can be. Our communication wasn’t always this good and productive during the early days of our relationship. I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to express myself to her in a more gentle and loving manner, regardless of how frustrated or confused I might feel. I am now experiencing the wonderful snowball effect of my newfound communication skills.

With my communication at its best with my wife, I have discovered that I have also improved my communication with others, bringing me closer to my best self. Here are 10 ways that I have learned to communicate better with my hypersensitive spouse.

1. Empathize

Put yourself in their shoes and truly try to understand where they are coming from. They are sensitive for a reason, and that reason is that they feel and interact with their environment in a way that you may not feel or understand.

Their sensitivity is a gift and a curse because they have the ability to feel not just their own feelings but the feelings and energies of others around them. Those other feelings can be heavy and negative, which can take a lot out of them when trying to communicate. Understand that it may take a while for your sensitive spouse to fully communicate their feelings to you because they have to let go of other energies.

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2. Listen

Listen, and listen very carefully to what your spouse is saying. When they are burdened with negative energy or feelings, they may say things that might not make sense or have a difficult time expressing themselves out of their own frustration. Recognize their struggle and listen intently to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Do not interrupt and interject with your answers. Let them speak freely because that just might be the only thing they need to do to feel better. All you have to do is listen.

3. Provide Physical Affection

Just like listening, physical affection can also be productive in communicating with your spouse. Nonverbal body language can speak volumes when communicating with your sensitive spouse. Just a simple touch or laying your hand on their hand will let them know that you care and are there for them. Sensitive people love affection because it gives them comfort and a sense of protection. When speaking with your spouse, try gentle touches or holding their hands.

4. Paraphrase

When you get the chance to answer or tell them how you feel, make sure you paraphrase what they have just told you. They will feel that you were intently listening and that you empathize with how they feel. One-word answers are not enough. I know this because I was the king of one-word answers. Paraphrase first, then reply to their question or statement. This also lets them know that you understand them and that you aren’t just trying to fix the issue at hand. They need a lot of this because it helps them figure their own thoughts and feelings out.

5. Adjust Your Voice Volume

Sometimes, we get passionate or frustrated and our voice volume elevates without us even realizing. To a sensitive spouse, it can be very loud and condescending. Your spouse is very sensitive to the tone and volume of your voice. Even when you speak under your breath, they can hear it.

Try to keep a very soft and gentle voice. Breathe between statements if you have to — it helps to regulate your volume in those passionate or frustrating times. Remember the type of person you are dealing with, because if you don’t, the conversation can quickly turn for the worse.

6. Acknowledge Their Feelings

Your spouse doesn’t need you to fix the problem or issues that they are facing. Sometimes, they only need you to acknowledge how they feel. This goes along with empathizing. If your spouse seems stressed and they are expressing how they feel, let them finish their thoughts, validate how they feel by agreeing, and apologize to show empathy for what they are going through.

7. Apologize

To some, this step may seem confusing because we have been taught to only apologize for the things we’ve done wrong. Do not take this personally or feel that you are always wrong. Most times, your spouse just wants to feel that you understand how they feel. I’ve learned that apologizing is also used to show empathy for what your spouse may be going through. Apologizing shows that you understand the discomfort that they feel daily. For them to even open up to you about their discomfort means it’s a really hard day, moment, or time for them. You apologizing to them let’s them feel seen, heard, and validated.

Apologies can go something like this, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” You are not apologizing for anything you did, but rather showing you care.

8. Be Patient

If you are not a patient person, you will need to learn and learn fast. You have to understand that your hypersensitive spouse can take quite a long time to process, feel, and let go of what they are going through. They may not be thinking logically about their situation because they are “feelers” — naturally hypersensitive people will automatically turn to their emotions first, then attach their thoughts logically. It’s your job to have patience through this process. Remember, when you go through your own trials and tribulations in life, they will also be patient with you.

9. Look for Solutions

After your spouse has settled down, expressed how they feel, and after you’ve empathized and apologized while showing physical affection, then come up with a practical solution. Phrase the solution in a question so it doesn’t sound like it is the absolute answer to their issues. Your whole goal is to make them feel better after they’ve fully expressed themselves. Ask them comforting questions like: “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” or “how can I help you with your problem?” Most times, your spouse will tell you exactly what they need and that is the answer you are looking for.

10. Remember To Love

Relationships are hard. Period. With a hypersensitive spouse, it can be a little harder because they react to and feel things that you often overlook. Remember to choose your spouse every day. During those difficult times is when it’s the most important to remember all the reasons why you chose them for all of your days.

Remember: loving your spouse when it’s easy is great, but loving your spouse when they aren’t at their most lovable is the love that matters most. That love will move you forward through any difficult conversation or situation that you may both go through. Remember that their hypersensitivity is a gift that you should love and accept. Don’t be surprised if their intuition always seems right. Love them unconditionally with patience and your life will never be the same.

I continue to learn from my wife every day because situations are always changing. I become more and more patient, loving, and tender. What I learn from her, I take with me when dealing with others. With everyday pressures and responsibilities, we often forget to think about and feel what others might feel. We seldomly are wise with our words and tone of voice. People react to things differently, but if we are aware of ourselves and how we speak, we can better understand how to say things in a more loving and effective way.

Featured photo credit: Monica Ricci via snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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