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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

How to Talk When Talking Seems Impossible

How to Talk When Talking Seems Impossible

Sometimes we just want to be left alone. When you’re angry, frustrated, or disappointed, you may not feel like chatting about it. If someone does try to talk to you, they’ll probably seem annoying.

It’s tempting to ignore them. You might also say something like “leave me alone,” or “I don’t need you”. These are natural responses to the nagging individual but these could be things that you’d regret saying. Either way, you usually end up inflicting harm when you can’t figure out how to express yourself.

Innocent Words Become Murderers

When couples are dealing with negative emotions, they have a hard time conveying their feelings in a loving manner. It’s not just what you say, but it’s also how you say it. Even if you aren’t angry at your partner, you may unintentionally take a harsh tone with them.

This is completely understandable. When you’re dealing with negative emotions, controlling your expressions and tone of voice is difficult. It’s like inside of you, your willpower is trying hard to fight the negative emotions and really have no room for dealing with people, even though they are only trying to be nice to you.

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    Couples can get caught up in the negativity and forget that this behavior is out of character. The slighted partner may judge their significant other and wonder, “Why are they doing this to me?” What was once a problem for one partner has escalated into a serious communication breakdown.

      When couples don’t learn to express their negative feelings in constructive ways, they can make one another feel unloved. If one member of the couple doesn’t want to open up about feelings, the other may assume that this means that they don’t care for or value them.

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      Words can be like daggers. If one partner say hurtful things, the other may doubt the relationship.

        Talking Isn’t the Only Way Out

        During difficult times, it’s critical for couples to recognize when they’re having trouble dealing with emotions. The struggle is not a reflection of the relationship or the love that they feel for one another.

        Talking may not be the best option during volatile periods, but that doesn’t mean that couples should avoid expressing themselves to one another. There are other ways to explain troubling feelings without hurting your partner. Writing a letter is a great option.

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        You may be thinking that a text message would suffice, but a text will not do in this situation. Text messages are too casual, and require almost no effort. It’s also difficult to accurately capture your tone in a text, which could lead to the same problems as speaking about your feelings.

        Writing a letter demonstrates that you value the relationship and want to make an effort to communicate effectively.

        In Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray explains that there are two types of letters you can write to express your feelings:

        1. A letter to tell all your thoughts and feelings
        2. Another letter on how you want to me responded

        After you complete the letter to express your feelings, you may not feel the need to talk about the issue anymore. The first letter is a tool to help you get the jumble of thoughts and emotions onto the page. After you’ve committed the internal turmoil to paper, you may feel better.

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        Your response letter is what you would want your partner to tell you after hearing about your emotions.

        After you’ve written both letters, share them with your partner. Writing these two letters not only lets your partner know how you’re feeling, but it also shows them what you need in order to feel better. Unless you show your partner what you need, they won’t know how to love you more.

        Always Tell, Even If It Seems Difficult

        Keeping your mouth shut is a surefire way to create tension in a relationship, but talking out your thoughts poorly is also damaging. Instead of getting frustrated with your partner when they’re trying to help you, use the letter-writing method to express your feelings and teach your partner how to comfort you.

        By writing out your feelings, you’ll notice decreased tension in your relationship, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been heard. You’ll be able to communicate in a loving way instead of chasing away the people that love you most.

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        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2019

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

        In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Step right up, don’t be shy!

        Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

        The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

        Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

        Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
        So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

        A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

        Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

        Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

        When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

        Culturally Conditioned

        We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

        I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

        The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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        Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

        Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

        Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

        1. Broadens Your Network

        After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

        2. Improves Your Communication Skills

        I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

        Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

        3. Continually Learning

        So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

        Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

        4. Increases Self Confidence

        Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

        Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

        So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

        How to Talk to Strangers

        Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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        1. Say Hello

        Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

        Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

        Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

        2. Ask About Them

        Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

        You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

        As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

        3. Just Do It

        One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

        When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

        Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

        4. Don’t Take It Personal

        One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

        When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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        5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

        I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

        One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

        6. Detach

        A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

        Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

        7. Share Your Stories

        Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

        To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

        So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

        8. Give a Compliment

        Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

        When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

        9. Relax Your Body Language

        If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

        When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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        If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

        10. Practice, Practice, Practice

        Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

        Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

        After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

        The Bottom Line

        As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

        There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

        Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

        More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

        Reference

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