I Wish I Hadn’t Said That…

How can you communicate effectively while you are emotional?

Well, sometimes you can’t. It’s hard to think coherently, let alone speak or write, when you are angry or upset. The best thing to do when you’re upset is remain quiet, because your ability to listen and respond appropriately is diminished. Unfortunately, most people are likely to do more talking than usual when they’re upset. That can be a lethal combination.


The problem is, as the old saying goes, “Words once spoken can never be reclaimed.” You can’t take words back, no matter how badly you want to. There is a Willie Nelson song that goes:

Forgiving you was easy

But forgetting seems to take the longest time

If it’s possible, wait for awhile before saying anything about the topic. Turn your attention to something else for awhile. Sleep on it if you need to! When you do address what is bothering you, chances are you’ll be far more calm and collected.

There are times when you don’t have the luxury of stepping away from the situation until you’re ready to deal with it. What do you do then?

1) Be specific. “You’re always so inconsiderate” is an unclear message. It’s better to say, “You forgot to pick up the dry cleaning yesterday, and you were 45 minutes late for dinner without calling.”

2) Explain why it matters to you. How did this other person’s actions impact you? Sometimes the connection that seems so obvious to you is not at all clear to anyone else.

3) Keep it short! Give yourself a short amount of time to tell someone what is bothering you. Ten minutes is a good benchmark. It’s better to say too little than too much!


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