Expressing our thoughts and feelings is essential, but only if done appropriately. When we’re upset, our first instinct might be to yell and use abusive language. For sure, that’s an honest expression of what we think and feel at the moment, and so we believe we have a right to behave that way. But we’re actually expressing hostility rather than honesty.
Let’s say our partner makes a joke at our expense. At the right moment we scream at them, “I hate when you say things like that!” That’s an honest reaction, but it really doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. We may actually feel hurt or insecure by what was said, but rather than admit to those feelings, we lash out in anger. The truly honest discussion would focus on feeling hurt or insecure. When we take that approach, our partner has a better chance of understanding where we’re coming from and may try harder not to be hurtful.
It’s important to choose the right time for confrontation. While we might want to take on an issue as soon as it arises, there’s a better chance we’ll communicate effectively if we wait for our emotions to subside. When we’re angry, it’s harder to take in all the information presented to us and process it accurately. So, we might not hear or we might misinterpret our partner’s points. Additionally, we may have trouble expressing ourselves accurately or we may say things that only intensify the argument.