Sick of getting unsolicited advice when you’re just trying to vent? Do you feel like little fights often start because your partner (or friend, co-worker, family) just didn’t respond how you wanted them to? Let’s put an end to that.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- The three goals of communication
- Why these will change the way you communicate forever
- How to avoid conflict & misunderstanding
- How to communicate what you want from the other person
Links and Resources
If you’d like to tap in to your 5 senses to cultivate a deeper sense of self-love – check out my free 5-day challenge, Journey to Self-Love at eleanorhadley.com/journey
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On the podcast lately we’ve been talking about relationships and communication. I did an episode, back in episode 7, all about naming your needs and how this is particularly relevant right now when we’re all living in close quarters.
These times are really, really strange and as we navigate our new normal – the need for clear communication is becoming more and more clear.
Today, I want to share one tool that I have found incredibly helpful in upping my communication game in my relationships. It’s something I learnt via the Multiamory podcast – which, by the way I highly, highly recommend. It’s an absolutely invaluable resource for learning more about communication and relationships – and while it’s generally aimed at those who are exploring non-monogamy, I still encourage all of my monogamous friends to listen to it, because it has got such amazing lessons there.
Anyway – there is something they call the Triforce of Communication – they’re a little nerdy but it’s great.
Essentially, this tool invites you to consider what the goal of communication is. And these will likely fall into three categories.
- You/they want to share and be heard
- You/they are seeking sympathy, comfort, praise or celebration
- You/they are wanting help to solve a problem or seeking advice
Another way that I like to think of this – and how I remember it, is “Hear Me, Feel Me or Help Me” That might help you too.
Now, conflict tends to arise when we aren’t communicating our desired goal of communication or the conversation or when we misinterpret someone else’s goal of the communication or the conversation.
So – a classic example is when you come home and just want to vent about an experience you had at work that day – maybe you’re feeling really frustrated and exhausted. Your goal is in category 1 aka ‘Hear Me mode’ – you simply want your partner (or the other person) to hold space for you, to listen and hear you. But, your partner jumps into “Fix-It” mode (or category 3 aka ‘Help Me’ mode) and starts trying to problem solve, offering advice or, perhaps less eloquently, pointing out that you should do XYZ to solve your problem.
This inevitably turns into a conflict, because you never asked for advice and now you start resenting the fact that they’re “telling you what to do”, and part of you starts losing trust that you can comfortably open up to this person without fearing that they are just going to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
On the flip side, they feel frustrated and attacked that you are annoyed, because, in their mind, they were simply trying to help. This inevitably leads to them resenting you for not valuing their advice or feeling that they can never do anything right. Without pissing you off.
All because there was a simple lack of communication about what you – the initiator of the conversation – was seeking or there was no clarification by the other person about what you were desiring from the conversation.
Can you see how this misalignment can lead to (and likely has led to) so many conflicts?
So, I want you to think about now, how this may have played out in your relationships many, many times. None of us are perfect here, myself included. Like raising my hand up, nice & high.
This is often a really, really a key source of miscommunication and frustration in conversations when we simply don’t understand what we are wanting from the other person, in this communication, in this conversation, this exchange.
Another example – here’s one from my own life. Years ago, when I purchased my pole dancing studio – the day that it was official, papers had been signed, money had been transferred and it was officially mine – I was super excited. I called my partner at the time to share the news. I was expecting him to be – “oh my god, that’s so exciting, I’m so proud of you babe. Let’s do this and that and celebrate!” and all He did was say “great, congratulations” …and then changed the subject.
My heart sank. My face got hot and the rage started to build.
In this example – I was expecting and hoping for category 2 or “Feel Me” mode – I was seeking celebration. I wanted him to celebrate with me. This was a HUGE deal to me. But, he was responding as though it was a simple category 1 “Hear Me’ – he assumed that I just wanted to share the news, so he heard it and he was like “cool, congrats” and changed the subject.
Of course, back then with a significant lack of communication skills under my belt – I got frustrated and grumpy. He hadn’t suggested champagne and a fancy dinner out to celebrate – which are things that I for some reason was placing this expectation on him to do – this all touches on the fact that I didn’t communicate my needs and desires what I wanted from him. Which again, I laid out a lot of this in episode 7, so check that out if you haven’t already. He hadn’t praised me and celebrated my big news and I was hurt.
In his defence, he didn’t see the big deal at all – I’d been working towards the purchase of this business for a while, it was inevitable, it wasn’t a surprise that I suddenly sprung on him – so the official-ness (is official-ness a word?) of it didn’t cause him to even consider celebrating it. It was inevitable – “so cool, so it’s done” We always knew that it would be done, he didn’t mark it. He also came from a background where even birthdays weren’t actually celebrated, he hadn’t celebrated a birthday since he was about 12, so it wasn’t even on his radar to mark the occasion as special.
All this to say – we must be clear with the people in our life what it is that we are seeking from our interactions, first knowing this ourselves and then communicating this clearly to others.
So, I know this all sounds well and good, and you’re like “ Cool Eleanor, but how on Earth do I share this with someone without sounding like a Robot?”
Firstly, what would be super helpful is to open up a conversation about conversations. To communicate about communication. To help others understand this concept you can actually share this episode with your partner, your friends, your family and help them to understand this as well, if you found it interesting and helping for yourself. The more awareness we have of these three different goals of communication, the easier it’s going to be to share your communication goals with each other moving forward. To not only share that and express it yourself, to also hear that and understand when someone is trying to communicate that with you.
So, a few phrases you can use to express these needs could be…
- “I want to share some things that happened for me today, and I would love it if you could just hold space and hear me, could you do that?”
- “I’ve got some super exciting news that I want to celebrate with you”
- “I’m feeling a bit low, can you just comfort me right now? That’s all I need”
- “I’m really having trouble with this thing, can I ask your advice?” So you are specifically asking for advice.
Recognising as well, I think that honestly this third one, the “Help me”. The idea of seeking advice is one that can trip us up a lot because people really get frustrated that people are giving advice that they never asked for and like in the example that I already gave you. So, this is really, really important – if someone hasn’t asked you for advice maybe don’t give it. Or what you could do is ask clarifying questions.
Say – “I just want to understand, do you want me to offer some advice now? Or do you just want me to hear you?” It can be as simple as that – “are you asking my opinion or are you just sharing this with me?” Trying to clarify what it is the other person wants. It is a two-way street, it is not all entirely on the person initiating the conversation if we can know about this more and more.
This has worked very well for me in my relationships so one in particular, we were both aware of this and he would actually stop me sometimes and be like “are you asking my advice” I would be like “Thank you for asking – No, I am not, please just hear me as I rant a little bit and I’ll be good. Thanks for holding space for me.”
These simple phrases and these clarifying questions can be SO powerful and they can change the entire trajectory of a conversation and totally mitigate conflict. It’s just simply about being clearer about your goals and asking clarifying questions. So powerful.
Okay, this is something I wanted to share with you today because I think it’s so important just in general for us to learn more about our communication styles and to actively work on communication. Honestly, I was never taught how to communicate effectively and so what I’ve done is taken it upon myself and go and learn and study this and this is something I share and pass on in The Sensuality Academy, my online program which is coming up very soon. Hopefully, launching in May – I will have more details for you soon but I have an entire module about relationships and communications in relationships and it’s so powerful. So, if you’re interested in that, definitely send me a DM and I’ll get you on the waitlist so you can be the very first to know when it’s released.
Okay, that’s all from me for today. I hope you found this helpful, and if you do – you know what to do, the reviews and all that jazz – I know you hear that on every single podcast, but it does really help and I appreciate it if you can leave one there. Check out the show notes for a breakdown of these tips and again, a HUGE shout out to the team at Multiamory, I’m such a fangirl, for coining the term Triforce of Communication and sharing this, this is how I first heard about this.
I’ll be back soon with more tips for navigating and sustaining your relationships throughout this time and all times to come.
Have a beautiful and sensual day as always, stay sensual!
Let me know your thoughts!