Expressing feelings is an essential component of effective communication. Whether the aim of the communication is to be positive; or to seek a change in behaviour; expressing feelings reinforces the importance of the message. However, when expressing your feelings it is important that you do so in the correct manner. Expressing feelings, requires you to take ownership of those feelings rather than blame them on others. Sadly, people regularly abdicate responsibility for their feelings.
Expressing feelings in a negative way
You might attempt to blame your feelings on others rather than accept responsibility yourself, e.g.
'You made me so angry when you arrived home late for dinner'
While the other person may indeed have arrived late for dinner they are not responsible for your reaction to their late arrival. Instead your feelings are more likely to be a result of your expectations or hopes for how the other person might have behaved in the situation. In many instances your expectations may be unrealistic and this leads to unnecessary anger or other negative feelings. Of course, there are may be times when you feel that your anger is thoroughly justified. In these instances you may wish to raise the issue with the other person. However, expressing your feelings, in a way that lays the blame them at the feet of the other person, is likely to meet with a defensive response which does not solve the problem.
Expressing feelings in a positive way
However, if you raise the issue in a manner where you accept responsibility for your own feelings, the other person is more likely to acknowledge your feelings and consider them in future. In the earlier example, imagine the more co-operative response you would receive if you said the following:
'I was so angry when you arrived late for dinner because I had hoped we might spend some family time together.'
Clearly expressing your feelings, and explaining why you feel that way, enables the other person to understand and acknowledge your feelings,
thus leading to a more amicable situation.
Expressing your feelings just one essential aspect of effective communication. You can learn more with How To Talk So Others Will Listen.
Next time you seek to blame your negative feelings on someone else why not try a different approach?