Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Great Communication Failure We All Do

I spend the better part of most of my time communicating with people. Its my job. Its what I do. I listen, talk, read, and write with people most of the day. What I also do, is notice people communicating. I'm a people watcher. You can learn alot about them, and yourself, by watching how they communicate.

In my view, most of people's relationship problems are centered around their lack of communication, or poor communication. Either people don't have the right tools, or they don't use the tools they have correctly.

Which brings me to a very small soap box on which I will stand today to talk about a miscommunication style that is both frustrating and unhelpful.

It's called- the "sigh".

People do it all the time. They are frustrated,upset, or angry, and instead of articulating that emotion to the person they are in relationship, they sigh. They let out a big breath of air in a way that is loud and attempts to convey some sort of emotion that they can't or wont articulate verbally.

Here's what happens- someone is upset with another person, and instead of saying, "Friend, I'd like to share with you my current frustration" they let out air like a tire going flat. This is poor communication. Good communication is sharing with someone what you are feeling in a way that is clear, not in a way that is shrouded in negative emotion.

Sighing leaves interpretation of emotion up to the person who is receiving it. It usually ends up in the person who is at the receiving end of the sigh misunderstanding the sigh, and continuing the cycle of miscommunication.

Here's the deal- if you sigh, no one knows what you are really feeling, so they can't respond to you correctly. If you're feeling an emotion- share it verbally in a constructive way, don't sigh and assume that people will know what you're feeling. If want people to identify with what you are feeling- tell them what you are feeling.

There. I said it. Lets try to sigh less and talk more. Be clearer in what we're feeling. When we do that, we will help our relationships, not harm them.

Be blessed


  1. Oh man I am so busted! I do this all the time! I never really thought of it as something I should work on but after reading this blog I realize it is and I should.

  2. Speaking as someone who gets told she sighs a lot...some of us are not always aware we are doing it, and it isn't always about unexpressed feelings. Sometimes it's just a habit. I've had people ask me what the big sigh was about and I was clueless that I even sighed...and I wasn't 'feeling' anything! Just sayin....

  3. Wow, you would NOT enjoy talking to me. I get comments at times asking what I'm sighing about. And I didn't even know I'd done it. I sigh around others and when I'm alone. It isn't meant to communicate anything to other folks. Sometimes it's just a need to expel air. Don't always 'presume' it is negative. Sometimes it's just a weirdo expelling air.
    And... Have a great morning.

  4. I definitely understand the last to comments (I sometimes sigh when I don't mean anything either) However, I think what Matt was saying is that if you are attempting to use a "sigh" as a form of communication (as a way to let others know how you feel) it is ineffective. I have, on occasion, let out a big sigh to let my wife know how I feel and she can rarely guess what I'm sighing about. So I agree with Matt - when trying to communicate "sigh less and talk more".