Miscommunications in relationships are a normal part of learning how to grow closer to someone who has had a history of experiences that are different than yours. Miscommunication can also occur when something that is said is received with a preconceived thought in mind, leading to an unexpected and unintended reaction. Experiencing a miscommunication with your girlfriend can lead her to become defensive or to stop all communication while she recovers from the emotional injury. Making up with her can be seen as an opportunity to apologize as well as communicate in a way that reduces the chances for repeating the miscommunication.
Apologize. Even if the miscommunication occurred as a result of both of your actions, someone has to take the initiative to apologize. This does not imply that you accept responsibility for things you haven't done. Instead, an apology includes acceptance for things for which you are responsible, along with a statement that expresses your regret for your part in hurting or damaging your girlfriend. The apology should include a statement that you are motivated and want to make changes to make things better and reduce the risk of the miscommunication occurring again.
Implement skills of active listening, which allows both individuals involved in a conflict to understand the other person's perspective. Using "I statements" rather than "you statements" can prevent you from falling into blaming or judging the intentions behind your girlfriend's actions in the conflict. For example, say, "I feel that something I said was received in a way I didn't mean, and I know if I were in your place, I'd be angry." Additionally, reframing what your girlfriend has stated can help clarify what she means without reconfiguring it into what you want it to mean.
Identify the problems in communication that led to the misunderstanding. Common causes of miscommunication include impaired ability to listen actively, language barriers, external distractions such as noise and differences in perception. In addition, miscommunication can occur when you use text messaging, email or voicemail, rather than speaking to the person directly. Attempt to identify the problem that led to the miscommunication in a relatively quiet location. When you explain your perception of the incident and the other person listens actively, improved understanding and communication occur.
Offer a token of appreciation to your girlfriend. Keep in mind that you are not seeking a win-loss situation and this isn't a competition to be right. Instead, give the token of appreciation with suggestions how you both can change and improve your understanding. At the same time, your token of appreciation acts as a "peace offering" that signifies your regret. Tokens of appreciation can include a favorite flower, dinner at her favorite restaurant or movie tickets. Express your feelings about her, and put the miscommunication behind you.
- UMass Amherst: How To Give A Meaningful Apology
- George Mason University: Sexual Assault Services: Communicating Effectively About Relationships/Intimacy
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: Communication Skills for Healthy Relationships
- California State University - Long Beach: Love & Communication in Relationships
- University of Florida: Active Listening: A Communication Tool
- Parenting Wisely: I Statements
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