Relationships and communication in time of crises

Author: Dragana Okanović, psychologist, HR Consultant, TIM Centar

Dragana Okanović

Interpersonal relationships are very important part of our lives. Whether we refer to business or intimate relations, very easily we can detect when something is just not right. I believe that majority of people have experienced how it is important to invest time and energy in order to have effective relations. Even when the circumstances are usual and normal, very often, we experience numerous challenges and obstacles in our relationships. In the time of crisis these challenges are even more intensified and our relationships and communication are put to the test.

In order to pass the test successfully and preserve our relationships (maybe even to improve them, why not?), we propose practicing the following psychological approaches.

Arm yourself with a lot of patience

Practice to hold your fire. When you think: „How can he/she say something like that to me?! “, just stop for a second and think. In the time of crisis people respond differently even to everyday activities. Very often, emotions like fear or anger can be the cause of someone’s impulsive behaviour and ineffective communication. If this is something that is happening to you or to someone you spend time with, try to withhold instant reaction. However, if you didn’t succeed in restraining, but reacted instead, don’t worry it’s not over yet. Try not to go deeper with your discussion if you feel your emotions are distracting you. You can even postpone your conversation (sometimes a few minutes it’s all that it takes). It is very important to understand that our reactions as well as reactions of other people are amplified and intensified due to changed circumstances. It is important to show empathy and understanding and to try to direct our conversations in a constructive manner.

Communicate assertively

Assertiveness means to communicate respectively, taking into account your needs as well as the needs of other people. In the time of crisis, assertive communication becomes even more important. Nowadays, we spend a lot more time with our family/partner and it is very important to communicate how we feel, how we respond to this situation and what is it that we need. Of course, it is important to listen and to acknowledge all of the mentioned to other people as well. So, instead of reacting: „Is it really important to search the net/listen to music/clean right now?!“, we can communicate openly and focus on finding the win-win solution for both parties. For example: „I can take care of the kids, while you search the net and you can play with them in the afternoon, so I can read my book. What do you think?“
It is very important to pay attention to the „implying syndrome“. The fact that we are very close with somebody does not mean that we have all the answers in advance, nor does it mean that other person can know how we feel about something if we don’t tell them. It simply does not work that way. The less we imply, the higher the chance to communicate openly and have a good relationships with others.

Nurture positive intentions and constructive approach to obstacles

No matter how the situation is challenging and difficult, positive intentions and constructive approach (solution based approach) are the cornerstones we can rely on. That is something that we can have impact on and is within our range of actions. In the long run these approaches can help us in overcoming obstacles and crisis.

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