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  • Writer's pictureLisa Jones

Lost in translation

Have you ever felt as though you are speaking a different language when you’re trying to get your point across? Whether it’s at work or at home with a loved one, you find yourself getting frustrated and the more you try the further away you get from being understood.

It might be that you need to change your words to really convey your thoughts or feelings. Here are some common phrases we use that I have re-worded to help you say what you mean.

Please use this list as a guide to help you reword your sentences to really convey your true feelings. Think before you speak, and dig a couple of layers deeper to discover what you want the other person to hear. If you inadvertently provoke the other person they are less likely to really listen to you.

You may recognise a pattern in my suggested translations. See how most of the translations start with the word “I” and not “You”? Own your feelings and don’t make statements about the other person until you have checked them out – trying to mindread the other person is a sure way to wind them up!

Another way to escalate a conversation into an argument is to minimise the other person’s feelings; “Calm down!” and “Stop fussing” are two examples. Check yourself and find your own feeling. You may be feeling helpless or scared of the other person’s emotions. Express your own feelings, and either enquire deeper or defer the conversation for another time.

If you find you have become angry and start to accuse the other person of doing, thinking, feeling something – wait until the emotion has subsided (go for a walk, breathe deeply, drink a glass of water) and ask if you can start again and change your words. Apologise to the other person for not saying what you really mean.

You may also notice that some of the phrases we use sound like a child or teenage voice. Check out if the emotion you are feeling is relevant to the here and now or whether you are replaying emotions from the past. It’s a common trap. Bringing yourself back into the present and the issue at hand will reduce the intensity of the emotions. A way to do this would be to look around the room and silently count 10 things you see. By the time you get to number 10 you will be “back in the room” and you have more chance of reassessing how you are really feeling.

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