ELEVATED COMMUNICATION: HOW TO AVOID SAYING THINGS YOU REGRET
Ever regret something you said in the heat of the moment?
Me too. It feels awful.
In the moment, maybe it felt like the right thing to say.
It might have even made you feel better to spat out the harsh words in the heat of a tense conversation.
But it doesn’t feel good after.
Our relationships are important to us, and saying hurtful things to ones we love is not a good strategy for keeping our relationships happy and healthy.
Luckily, I have created a framework to help you navigate tense, emotionally charged conversations so that you can avoid saying something you regret.
In this post (and corresponding podcast episode), I’m going to teach you all about a strategy I refer to as Elevated Communication.
It sounds fancy and complicated, but it’s not.
Put simply, Elevated Communication is a respectful form of communication that keeps respect and relationship-preserving in the forefront of the conversation.
Elevated communication is a communication strategy that I teach my patients. When practiced and used often, it is empowering in building strong, positive and constructive relationships.
I find that many women I work with often feel very emotional in their conversations with loved ones. The Elevated Communication strategy provides a framework to use in your conversations. So you can remain calm, productive and constructive.
If you’ve ever walked away from a conversation with regret and shame because of what you said when you were angry, then Elevated Communication is the strategy for you.
WHY DO YOU NEED ELEVATED COMMUNICATION?
Your emotions are high. Their emotions are high.
Before you know it, one of you says something slightly biting and the other becomes defensive.
And in not too long, you’re fighting about things that weren’t even involved in the conversation and the entire experience has become terrible.
When we’re feeling emotional in a conversation or situation, our ability to respond from our highest selves is compromised.
Often when we become emotional in conversations, we react out of emotion and we say things we don’t mean.
The truth is that speaking from an emotionally compromised place increases the chances that you:
- Say something mean and hurtful to someone you love
- Make a rash decision out of emotion rather than logic
- Disrespect your loved one and damage the relationship
Elevated Communication prevents us from saying things we regret.
Once you learn and practice using this valuable skill of Elevated Communication, you will become more intentional about how you respond from moment to moment.
When you are more intentional about what is coming out of your mouth, you are less likely to say things you regret.
Using Elevated Communciation also encourages you to hold yourself to a high standard of behaviour in how you speak to and interact with others.
It’s a way to show respect towards the other individual and communicating in a clear and confident way.
While most of us want to preserve our relationships and avoid hurting our loved ones, sometimes those emotions get the best of us. Elevated Communication is how we can regain our control from emotions in the midst of a heated conversation and keep our priorities at the forefront of our minds.
The bottom line is, in your heart of hearts, your relationship is important to you.
I would hazard a guess that everyone reading this post has experienced the stinging shame of saying something they didn’t mean out of anger or emotion.
I also would guess that no matter how angry or upset you are in the moment, your relationships are important to you.
It requires a lot of motivation and effort to start to learn and use this skill, but the payoff is very high. Elevated communication is hard, but it’s the practice that teaches you to step away and remember how deeply you care and respect that other person. It teaches you that you can communicate in a kind and respectful way.
HOW TO USE ELEVATED COMMUNICATION
There are three steps/skills you need to have locked down to use Elevated Communication effectively.
These three critical components are:
- Emotional intelligence
- Assertive space-making statements
Sound intriguing? Read on.
Step #1: Elevated Communication Requires Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence in this context is your ability to detect when you are experiencing an emotion and being able to identify it. In the case of Elevated Communication, we depend on this skill to detect when we are becoming emotionally activated in a particular situation.
This is one of the most powerful skills we can have in our lives and in our interpersonal relationships. It is the fine-tuned ability to detect changes in our own inner emotional state.
This means paying close attention to how your physical body feels while you’re in a conversation or situation.
By using the clues from your body and physical sensations, you will be able to detect when you are experiencing an emotion. When you detect there has been a shift in your emotional state (ie. you are becoming angry), you need to recognize that you are now emotionally compromised.
What does it mean to be emotionally compromised?
Being emotionally compromised means that you’re no longer acting from a place of feeling calm, grounded and effective. When you are emotionally compromised, your thinking is usually blurred by emotion and you will become less and less rational in your approach to the situation.
Unless you can identify it + step away. This is the magic.
Being able to identify that you’re no longer feeling neutral is the first step in the Elevated Communication framework.
Note: This is not easy! Catching yourself in the early emotion phase takes a lot of practice and self-compassion. Truthfully, this ability to detect changes in our inner emotional state before they take us over is one of the most challenging yet necessary skills we need to learn in life
Step #2: Use Your Self-Regulation Skills For Elevated Communication
Self-regulation comes in at the moment you realize that you are emotionally compromised.
Now that you have recognized that you are emotionally compromised, you are responsible for regulating your own self.
Self-regulation skills are those skills that allow you to process and regulate your own emotions, such as anger, sadness, etc.
It means knowing what you need to do to regulate your emotions and feel calm again.
The skills of self-regulation ask us to be aware of the responsibility we have for our own inner emotional state and take action to bring us back to balance.
Self-regulation skills may look like somatic skills such as deep breathing, yoga or going out for a heart-pumping walk. It might look like more cognitive and distracting skills like journaling or a body scan meditation.
These are the strategies you call on to help you sit with and process your emotions. As well as diffuse the energy that is coursing through your body and making you feel like reacting.
Self-regulation is not pushing your emotions aside and ignoring them. What you resist persists, including hostility or tension in your relationship. If you ignore your anger around a situation it’s only going to intensify the longer you ignore it.
Practicing self-regulation means taking radical responsibility for your emotions. It’s a very grown-up thing to do. You’re not blaming someone else or expecting anyone else to fix it for you. You’re taking ownership of it and regulating it.
Step #3: Use Assertive Space-Making Statements
Once you have:
- Identified you are emotionally compromised and
- Realized you need to self-regulate…
It is now time to use Assertive Space-Making Statements.
These statements are like gold. They are critical in-the-moment statements and phrases that you can use to request space to self-regulate.
These statements are essentially canned ways that you can ask for space in a kind, respectful and relationship-preserving way.
They allow you to express your awareness of being emotionally compromised in the conversation and requesting space to regulate your emotions.
There are four key characteristics of these statements.
The four key characteristics of Assertive Space-Making Statements:
- Acknowledging your own emotional state
- Expressing your need for space to process it. You’re not asking, you’re assertively expressing your need.
- Reassurance that the situation is important to you and that you’ll return. This is important! You’re not just leaving, you’re making it clear that you’ll be back so that the person doesn’t feel abandoned in the conversation.
- You’re making these statements from a place of respect and ruthless compassion towards the other person.
I’ve listed a couple of assertive space-making statements below for you to use or feel free to create your own using the characteristics above.
Some examples of Space-Making Statements:
- “I really want to finish this conversation with you right now, but I am having a lot of emotions right now. I am going to step away for a few moments and rebalance myself, I’ll be back.”
- “I sense I am getting emotional about this and I know that I won’t make the best choices in how I speak when that happens. I am going to go for a walk and clear my head, and then I’ll come back and we can continue this conversation.”
To summarize, Elevated Communication allows for constructive and positive, relationship-preserving conversation.
It takes a lot of motivation, but Elevated Communication looks like this:
- Using your emotional intelligence to identify that you are emotionally activated and compromised.
- Then use an assertive space-making statement to assert your need for space to process your emotions and self-regulate.
- Then actually take the space and time you need to self-regulate. This is where those self-regulation skills come in handy!
- Returning to the conversation when you feel 100% calm and can be more effective.
Elevated Communication is a skill you can start practicing today.
It takes motivation and consistency, but Elevated Communication is so powerful in every area of your life. Not just your personal relationships. Imagine what your work relationships could look like if you were able to use this strategy there as well.
Where do you find yourself being the most emotionally compromised and how can you plan to overcome those situations or conversations?
ELEVATED COMMUNICATION BUILDS STRONG, RESPECTFUL & HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Do you struggle to be assertive or set healthy boundaries in your relationships?
Do you find yourself overwhelmed with overwhelm?
Are you wishing you could feel a bit more like yourself, more often?
What if you had a sacred community of women all in pursuit of the same thing?
The Eunoia Collective is my monthly mental health membership program for women. In The Collective, we embrace challenges, learn skills and support one another to really take control of our mental health. Want to learn more? Click here.
THIS EPISODE DIGS INTO:
- The number one communication strategy I recommend to my patients to navigate tense conversations
- How to have healthy communication in a relationship
- The 3 skills you need to use Elevated Communication
- The value of using Elevated Communication to prevent saying something you regret!
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AUTHOR: DR. CARLY CREWE, MD
Dr. Carly Crewe is a mom to twin toddlers, a modern day nomad and MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health.
Carly believes that when women are well, they have the power to heal and change the world.
Her mission is to revolutionize the women’s mental health care, from fragmented and haphazard to a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach that meets every woman where she is and addresses the multidimensional reality of mental health.
Dr. Crewe is the founder of Eunoia Medical, a speciality mental health clinic for women in pursuit of a well mind. Carly runs a revolutionary mental health membership for women, The Eunoia Collective.
Carly is the host of the Mind Over Motherhood Podcast and is an Amazon best-selling author. Her newest book You Are Not Your Anxiety: How to Stop Being An Anxious, People-Pleasing Mess will be launching for presale on International Women’s Day March 8th, 2021.