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Relationship Communication Breakdown:
The Greatest Hindrance

Having a relationship communication breakdown is always troubling. It happens on teams, with friends and within families. I’ll share the greatest hindrance to fixing all communication breakdowns, along with three focus and mindset tips about what to do about it when it happens.

Going Home = Relationship Communication Breakdown...

relationship communication breakdown

I traveled to South Carolina, my home town, to see my very adorable nephew, Jesse, graduate from high school. I’m so proud of him. Dinners and celebration were bright  fun and very happy.

One of my favorite motivational speakers, Abraham, has shared this sentiment and it came to mind for me on this trip: "I now know what home sick means – it means that going home can make you sick!"

The home ‘sick’ part around this trip home was when my parents, in separate conversations, shared with me the troubles they were having with each other. (Side Note to All Parents Out There: DON'T do this even with an adult child. Find a good friend or counselor to vent with!)

Even though they were, in the moment, having their own relationship communication breakdown, and their sharing with me was upsetting, I also knew that they love each other very much. That in their  50+ years of marriage they had had many good times together. This was just a rough spot.

And as a Professional Facilitator and Consultant I also know that just letting others vent and express their feelings, can be therapeutic, for the person venting. I am a true believer in aggressive listening; it can help people move past their frustration and make it possible to move toward solutions.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind
of thinking we used when we created them."
Albert Einstein

The Greatest Hindrance...

relationship communication breakdown

What made this relationship communication breakdown, and my visit feel like home ‘sickness,’ was realizing how entrenched they were in their own arguments against the other. The more they argued for their position, the more stuck they became and the less likely any change or new view could come into play.  They were playing the 'blame game.'

This 'blame game' dynamic is the same thing that can make working with teams and leaders challenging, and it is the greatest hindrance to resolving relationship strain and stress.

Often when teams and leaders have a relationship communication breakdown they get stuck in how ‘right’ they are. Righteously ‘beating the drum’ of the problem, all the while hindering their ability to hear, find and create new and lasting solutions.

It’s natural for people to see what they don’t want and to talk about it. Unfortunately, the more you talk about what you don’t want, the more you see it.  And, the more you see what you don’t want to see, the more aggravated and frustrated you get.

From this focused place of irritation, nothing can change. 

The greatest hindrance to happy anything (relationships,
teams,good work, winning contracts, anything...)
with blame and ENDS in an
individual feeling as though
they're a victim, that they're stuck and that they have no
power to change the way things currently are.  

Any time you decide that your happiness is at the mercy of another person's mood, personality or actions - things that you think they should change - you get stuck. Because you can’t make anyone be different.

And when you're in the midst of a relationship communication breakdown, and you believe that someone or something must change in order for you to feel better, well, no wonder you get frustrated – that’s the epitome of a loss of empowerment.

So, as my folks 'made their case' against each other to others, like me, they were choosing to stay in their argument because they wanted to prove who was ‘right’ - and they each had very valid points and arguments.

Two Options: Tug of War OR Empowerment

In all relationship communication breakdown situations you have two basic choices:

relationship communication breakdown
  • #1:  Stay in the Tug of War. Continue to fight about who's right - by refining and arguing each of your very valid points.  If you choose this option the relationship will more than likely stay the same and you'll both be frustrated as you try to change each other.
  • #2:  Focus Upon What You Can Control - YOU!  Here, you begin focusing upon what you can control - your own mindset and actions.  In the long run this is the only thing that ever works, IF you truly want repair the breakdown.  It works because it shifts your focus away from blame and trying to prove that you're right.  And, when you're out of that tug-of-war, new ideas, insights and understanding become available to you.  

Three Mindset and Focus Tips to Move Your Focus From Blame Toward Empowerment...

Yes, in my parent's case each one may need to do something different. Dad could be less selfish and Mom could be less needy, but don’t count on it.  They can't make each other change, but each CAN shift their focus.  And if either one does eventually the relationship will shift and evolve out of breakdown into repair.

Are you blaming your team, an employee, a partner, a friend or a spouse for anything?

If you are, and you’re feeling like nothing’s changing, try the only thing that ever works: take charge by focusing on what YOU can do: control your own mindset, focus and actions.

When I find myself blaming another in any relationship communication breakdown, when I start feeling that kick in my gut that frustration brings, here's what I do to take control of me and my focus:

  • Self-Reminder: I remind myself that I can’t control one other person. As I remember this - I stop trying to control.   This is a BIG step to take, and if you can do it you've really got a good start!
  • Quiet Venting: I write in my private Journal.  I find that venting a bit, about what’s happening and how ‘wrong’ they were, helps me move off my whining. That's because after a while I get tired of myself and the argument. Counselors are a great resource too. (Keeping your venting PRIVATE is important.  Lots of conversations with others only keeps the blame going.  The goal in venting, here, is to let your blame "run out" NOT "ramp up!"Don't stay in this Step for too long, or you'll stay here, and not one-thing will change!)
  • Lists of Appreciation:  Venting privately - helps me move out of judgment and blame and toward a more empowered mindset. From a place of less judgment I can begin writing Lists of Appreciation about all the good people and things in my Life. This really helps me shift my focus from what's wrong onto all that's right.

    t usually goes better if I START with general lists of appreciation first. Focusing upon things and people that are EASY to appreciate, BEFORE I start with lists about a Person I've been privately venting about. And after a couple of pages, or less, of writing I almost always feel less blame. Often times I'm come to a new view and fresh insight about the SAME person and the SAME situation.  This new viewpoint will only comes about if I decide to look for it... otherwise, I'll just go back to the blame game. 

The Only Thing That Works, Plus Your Comments & Wisdom...

relationship communication breakdown

When you feel the blame game start, try the only thing that ever works: step back and find your own empowerment. You'll be amazed how changing your viewpoint creates a new dynamic, new understanding and new more effective ways to repair communication breakdowns.

Suzie Notes and a Relationship Communication Breakdown Update:
Several days after I wrote this Article, I talked with my Parents.
They'd just gone on a dinner and movie date, and it seemed like they had had fun. Yea! They've re-remembered that they like each other. Isn't love grand?

Am I the only one who experiences this type of home ‘sickness’ when going home? Can any one else relate? What do you think – does appreciation have a place in a relationship communication breakdown, even when the other person is truly 'wrong'?

What do you do when you’re frustrated with an employee, spouse or friend - to make improvements? What helps you solve problems with employees when they’re behaving ‘badly’?

Hit Me Up With Your Comments...

Let me know what you think about my suggestions and what you do when faced with relationship communication breakdowns.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

The only way to change your relationship is to change your steps! 
Hello! Your story reminded me of a time when my marriage was really in trouble. We had two little boys under four, two big careers involving lots of travel …

Relationship Communication Breakdown At Work!!!  Not rated yet
Relationship Communication Breakdown At Work, Big troubling, made me lost the respect from the team. No one listening and always ignoring good things …

Tricia Molloy Not rated yet
I love your homesick story and appreciate your courage for sharing it! Your video on "the universal dream team" is great. I can relate to your Toastmasters …

Appreciation - Hmmm - Hard When I'm Mad.... Not rated yet
Thanks for the reminder about Appreciation. It is hard when I'm mad at someone. But I do find if I step away for a bit, let some pass, I can use appreciation …

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