Tone, Look, Word (TLW): Stop the Poison Communication

A Volley of Gunfire Or A Conversation: Negative Communications. There are endless reasons why couples find themselves choosing tones, looks and words that insult, mock, tease and demean their partner. Hurt and angry feelings are no strangers to any relationship. The sarcastic tone, rolling eyes, mouth twisted in a smirk, and words that sting, all pack a wallop that overtime and repeated use, will rip apart the fine threads that weave two people together.

The Banal Becomes Lethal: Seemingly benign exchanges, such as “Remember to pick up a container of milk on your way from work tonight” or “Where were you when I called today?”, can sail through the air with the lethal speed and content of a bullet. Pow! “What’s for dinner?” can be an inquiry or a challenge. “I see your mother stopped by today.” can be an observation or an accusation. It all depends on the choices of tone, look and word.

How To Stop the Poison: Listen to your tone, sense what your face is doing, notice what words you choose to communicate with your partner. Be honest with yourself and you may see that these veiled messages would be better delivered directly and clearly. Spend some time figuring out the true nature of your feelings and the words that best represent them. Then ask your partner to have a “conversation” with you, to listen and to share. They may be using tones, looks and words to send messages that damage as well.  With both of you acknowledging the danger in these choices,  you can agree to find honest words that truly represent what you feel and what you need your partner to understand.

Prevention: If you can no longer make this conversation happen, seek help. Tell your partner that you are having trouble saying what you need to say and ask them to join you in finding someone to help you do that together. With the help of an expert, you will find that truthful exchanges cut out the ugly tones, nasty looks and demeaning words that over time erode what was once a good relationship.

Don’t Wait: Though it may mean admitting that you are imperfect, or that you are vulnerable, the common thread in all of us, you are better served by humbling yourself a bit and taking some risks to make your relationship viable once again.

©jill edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

5 Responses to “Tone, Look, Word (TLW): Stop the Poison Communication”

  1. paperbark60

    Gunfire a.k.a spit. My code name for a poison tone. Tone deaf after years of spit. Hearing the tone, step one took time and help. Stopping mid sentence was next, then finally thinking first. Leading to a healthy conversation. So much better.
    Facial expression, have that too.
    And yes the kids pick it up and are affected by it. Best of all they pick up on the lack of tone too. Makes family outings much more fun for all.

  2. Kim

    Felt good to write. Major progress in a process. Thanks for the reminder that it is owning my stuff. Ownership has its rewards.


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