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Published on August 14, 2020

How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner

How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner

When you fall in love, you think that your partner – and your relationship – is perfect, right? The idea that one of you could be emotionally unstable is the farthest thing from your mind. After all, being in love causes your brain to release all sorts of feel-good chemicals that make you feel like you’re on Cloud 9. In fact, when scanned, a person’s brain who is in love looks a lot like a person’s brain who is on cocaine. So, you really are feeling “high” when you’re in love!

However, as most of us know, that feeling of being in Heaven with your new love wears off after a while. Your brain eventually stops creating as many feel-good chemicals, and you slowly start returning back to normal.

In reality, this phase of love doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s just a fact of life.

While some people do go on to live happily ever after, others begin to realize that their supposedly “perfect partner” is not so perfect anymore. In fact, some even come to the realization that their partner is downright emotionally unstable.

Uh-oh. What do you do when that happens? It’s almost unbelievable – literally. How did this person turn into someone you hardly even recognize?

The problem is that you probably still love the person. And if that’s true, how do you deal with your emotionally unstable partner?

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Before we discuss how to deal with them, let’s first start by talking about how to recognize the symptoms of an emotionally unstable individual.

Symptoms of Being Emotionally Unstable

All of us have our bad days and our mood swings – it’s just the nature of being human. But how do you know when someone has crossed over the line from having just normal, everyday emotions to being downright emotionally unstable? Here are some of the signs.

Angry Outbursts

Everyone gets angry at times. It’s a normal and natural occurrence for every human being. However, how you express your anger is key to healthy relationships. So, if your partner seems to have outbursts of anger for no apparent reason (or over small things), then that is a sign.

Overly Dramatic

Again, we all have things happen in our lives that we don’t like. But a lot of people just deal with it, try to change things, and move on with their lives. An unstable person, however, will turn their life into unending drama when they don’t need to.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting[1] is psychologically manipulating another person into questioning their own sanity. For example, if they told you they would do something, they will deny ever saying it when you bring it up. Then, you wonder if they really said it or if you just imagined it. But that is just one example.

Mood Swings

It’s normal for people’s moods to change. No one can be happy 100% of the time, right? But for most, the change in mood is relatively minor. It’s usually dependent on something outside of themselves. But an unstable person could have extreme mood swings for no good reason.

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Inappropriate Anger

When most people get angry, it’s usually at someone who is close to them. That makes sense, because those are the people with whom we spend the most time. But if your partner frequently yells at a server in a restaurant or other random people, then that is not healthy.

Lack of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to feel what another person feels and to see things from their perspective – not just your own. Emotionally unstable people are generally unable to do this. They only see their own side of a situation.

Tries to “One up” You

They always seem to be in a power struggle with you. For example, if you had a bad day, they will tell you how theirs was worse. Or, if you are having an argument, they will always try to gain the power to “win” and make you lose.

Inability to Admit When They Are Wrong

Emotionally unstable people can’t admit when they are wrong. In fact, admitting they are wrong is a threat to their psychological well-being. It shakes the core of themselves and their self-identity. So, they will never admit “defeat,” even if they secretly know they are wrong.

Sense of Entitlement

They think they deserve everything, and nothing needs to be earned. For example, they demand that you do things for them because they think it’s their right to do so.

Dealing With Problems Irrationally

The best way to deal with problems in relationships is to have both people on the same team, and for them to come up with a mutual solution. However, emotionally unstable people are unable to do this because they only look at things emotionally, not logically.

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Too Intense

The intensity with which they express their emotions is extreme. They don’t tend to be moderate in any of their interactions. This may generate a feeling of walking on eggshells around them because you are afraid of their intense communication.

Blaming Others

Unstable people don’t ever look in the mirror and take personal responsibility for their actions. Instead, they always point fingers at other people and blame them for everything that is wrong in their lives.

How to Deal With an Emotionally Unstable Partner

Now that we know some of the signs and symptoms of an emotionally unstable person, here are some things you can do to deal with them.

1. Step Back and Observe

Ask yourself if you did anything wrong. Because they tend to gaslight other people (see above), emotionally unstable people have you question your actions and sanity. Be objective, and observe them and yourself. Did you really do anything wrong? Probably not.

2. Get Other People’s Perspectives

Tell your stories to trusted loved ones. Tell them what happens in your interactions, and get their opinion about whether or not your partner is overacting, or if you actually did something wrong. Someone on the outside will likely have a clearer view of what’s going on.

3. Don’t Play Into Their Drama

As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” In other words, someone can’t play a game by themselves. They need another person to participate. But don’t give into their drama. Refuse to engage in it and walk away.

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4. Walk Away When They Attack You

If and when they verbally, mentally, or emotionally attack you, just leave the conversation. Don’t allow them to do that to you! Demand that they talk to you nicely, and don’t accept anything less than that. If they can’t give you respect, then end the conversation until they can.

5. Demand Respect

Remind them that how they are speaking to you is unacceptable. One very important thing to remember is this: you teach people how to treat you. Demand that they treat you with respect[2].

6. Stay Calm

Don’t get sucked into their emotional storms. It’s easy to do because you want to defend yourself, but this just plays into their drama. Try to stay calm and rational because that’s the only way people can talk in a healthy manner.

7. Don’t Fall for Gaslighting

When they try to gaslight you, refuse to accept it. Take notes on things that they tell you and what they do, so you have a record. When they try to deny things to make you look crazy, pull out your record and show them the truth.

8. Suggest Therapy

Many times, an emotionally unstable person cannot get better on their own. Going to a trained therapist or psychologist is something that they should probably do – both on their own, and perhaps as a couple as well.

9. If All Else Fails, End the Relationship

Unfortunately, not all relationships can survive – even under the best of circumstances. If you have tried all you can to fix your relationship and make it healthy with someone who is emotionally unstable, sometimes it’s just time to end the relationship and find someone else that you are more compatible with.

Final Thoughts

Being in a relationship with an emotionally unstable person is never easy. You feel like you never know how they are going to act or what they’ll say next. But that’s no way to live. Everyone deserves to be in a happy, healthy relationship. Don’t forget to love yourself enough to put yourself and your happiness first!

More on Dealing With Emotionally Unstable People

Featured photo credit: Kate Kozyrka via unsplash.com

Reference

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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