In relationships – not just romantic, but also familiar and plutonic – we are often going to find ourselves running into situations where we have something bothering us, or something we feel we need to share. Communication is an important part of any relationship, and so it makes sense to feel like we should speak out about a topic when we feel it is important for the other person to hear.
But communicating isn’t just talking. It’s also listening. And before you’ve decided to speak, it may be important to first determine if the other person is interested in listening.
The Importance of Being Heard
When you have an issue with someone, one of the first things to do before you bring up the issue is take a few minutes and reflect on whether or not the person will be receptive to your message if you share it. There are both people and situations where it is “not the time.” For example:
- The person may be very happy, and bringing the issue up in that moment could ruin their experience for an issue that isn’t necessarily important.
- The person may not be interested in what you have to say, which can hurt, but also means that communicating might be counterproductive.
- The person may be on high emotions with their own thoughts and feelings, and thus less receptive to yours.
- The person may not be someone that is interested in your issues, which tells you something about that person and their role in your life.
There are many situations where the person that you’d like to talk to just isn’t going to be receptive if you bring up the topic. When that happens, then you have to decide whether or not it’s something you should share. Sometimes it still will be. After all, you also deserve to share your truth and what is upsetting you. But sometimes, it doesn’t bring value to approach the topic.
Communication is Good – But There Are People, Times, and Moments
If someone is not going to be receptive to you bringing up an issue that bothers you, then you first have to decide when a better time will be. Maybe it’s situational, and the person will be more receptive at a later date as long as you wait for a better moment.
If the person is not likely to ever be receptive, then you have to decide how important the issue is to you. If it’s not very important, decide if you’re comfortable overcoming it on your own. If it is very important, share it anyway no matter the consequences. If it is somewhere in the middle, perhaps it makes sense to examine your relationship with that person, decide why the person will not receptive to you, and then decide how your relationship should be valued if the person will never be receptive to your feelings.
You can certainly communicate an issue when it is very important, but make sure you’re at least evaluating if the person might respond the way you hope they will. If the answer is yes, share. If it’s no, determine if there is a better time, what it means to you that they won’t hear you, and whether you want to share it anyway.