Most of us have left interactions with others wishing we had said, done, or written something differently. The side effects of communication regret tend to linger, even fester. We know that we don’t always bring the best version of ourselves to these moments. None of this feels good.
Do YOU suffer from communication regret? Symptoms include but are not limited to:
Nervousness, embarrassment, shame, sleep deprivation, headaches, stomach upset, break down of personal and professional relationships, job loss, career derailment.
These symptoms are often due to self-care deficiencies. We are often great caregivers but poor self-care providers.
Self-care provides opportunities to address our own needs and emotions in communication.
Picture these scenarios. Think about how you may or may not be providing self-care in similar dynamics:
You make plans to catch up with a long-time friend. The interaction begins with your friend sharing her updates. You listen with interest and ask many questions. When the time comes for you to share, there is little reciprocity. This cycle has become the norm and you resent it. You want to express how you feel but are afraid to rock this friendship boat and upset her. You leave feeling disappointed and dismissed while hoping she will be more curious about your needs the next time.
You are assigned to work on a project with a colleague. As the project evolves, your teammate’s attention to detail, follow up, and quality of work decline. He ignores your efforts to collaborate. You consistently pick up his slack in the best interest of the project. He never acknowledges or thanks you for the extra time and coverage. You want to express frustration but fear confrontation. You worry that this cycle will repeat itself during future projects and already dread the additional work and stress.
Interpersonal situations often devolve in these ways because we do not have clear self-care plans in place let alone the courage and commitment to stick to them. Professional training and coaching can help.
Self-care prevents imbalanced communication.
We can accommodate others’ needs but not lose our own voice or be taken advantage of in the process. Being respectful and flexible with others is necessary but not at the expense of self-care.
Lack of self-care manifests in different ways for everyone. Here’s a list of a few common behaviors:
– Overextending time and energy with others.
– Leaving interactions feeling drained, devalued, or dismissed.
– Saying “Yes” when we really want to say “No.”
Picking our battles wisely is emotionally intelligent. Yet, consistently avoiding our real feelings or not clearly expressing ourselves has cumulative effects. Lack of self-care compromises our well-being and the relationships we try so hard to maintain.
Self-care promotes healthy and productive communication.
At first, providing self-care can be challenging. Being more assertive or less aggressive may be difficult. People may dislike being told “No” for a change and not understand why. People may be confused by not getting the usual attention or reactions from us. Most of all, we will feel vulnerable. When it comes to self-care, things usually have to get worse before they get better. Small doses of courage and time make big differences.
A little self-care each day goes a long way. Gradually, interpersonal dynamics that once felt awkward or unfixable can evolve. When we honor ourselves through self-care, we also demonstrate that we care enough about the relationships or work involved to be honest.
DISCLAIMER: Self-care does not guarantee that we will get everything we want from everyone all of the time. However, providing self-care does afford opportunity to be heard while communicating with more control, clarity, and confidence. All of this feels better and is good for us.
Interested in professional training and coaching on communication skills and self-care action plans? Contact us.
Jill Mazza is a Senior Consultant with WD Communications and Certified Professional Coach.
Ms. Mazza takes holistic approaches to training, development, and corporate wellness. By integrating personal and professional goals, she supports clients to establish action plans that promote clear, confident communication on and off the job. With attention to energy and mindfulness, Jill creates experiential learning environments that increase self-awareness and self-esteem as essential foundations. In this way, the core communication skills of speaking, listening, and writing strengthen from the inside out.