Communicating effectively in relationships
Relationships and communication - Better Health Channel
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SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Communication is important in relationships. We need to talk openly and be good listeners.
- Most people can learn how to communicate more effectively.
- Share positive feelings about your partner with them.
- It is better to act early if you are having difficulties, rather than waiting for the situation to get worse.
Importance of communication
Good communication is an important part of all relationships and is an essential part of any healthy partnership. All relationships have ups and downs, but a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with conflict and build a stronger and healthier partnership.
We often hear how important communication is, but not what it is and how we can use good communication in our relationships.
What is communication?
By definition, communication is the transfer of information from one place to another. In relationships, communication allows to you explain to someone else what you are experiencing and what your needs are. The act of communicating not only helps to meet your needs, but it also helps you to be connected in your relationship.
Communicating clearly in a relationship
Talk to each other. No matter how well you know and love each other, you cannot read your partner’s mind. We need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, resentment or confusion.
It takes 2 people to have a relationship and each person has different communication needs and styles. Couples need to find a way of communicating that suits their relationship. Healthy communication styles require practice and hard work. Communication will never be perfect all the time.
Be clear when communicating with your partner, so that your message can be received and understood. Double check your understanding of what your partner is saying.
When you talk to your partner, try to:
- set aside time to talk without interruption from other people or distractions like phones, computers or television
- think about what you want to say
- be clear about what you want to communicate
- make your message clear, so that your partner hears it accurately and understands what you mean
- talk about what is happening and how it affects you
- talk about what you want, need and feel – use ‘I’ statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’ and ‘I feel’
- accept responsibility for your own feelings
- listen to your partner. Put aside your own thoughts for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants (this is called empathy)
- share positive feelings with your partner, such as what you appreciate and admire about them, and how important they are to you
- be aware of your tone of voice
- negotiate and remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, try to let the issue go, or agree to disagree.
When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Our body posture, tone of voice and the expressions on our face all convey a message. These non-verbal means of communicating can tell the other person how we feel about them.
If our feelings don’t fit with our words, it is often the non-verbal communication that gets ‘heard’ and believed. For example, saying ‘I love you’ to your partner in a flat, bored tone of voice, gives 2 very different messages. Notice whether your body language reflects what you are saying.
Listening and communication
Listening is a very important part of effective communication. A good listener can encourage their partner to talk openly and honestly. Tips for good listening include:
- Keep comfortable eye contact (where culturally appropriate).
- Lean towards the other person and make gestures to show interest and concern.
- Have an open, non-defensive, fairly relaxed posture with your arms and legs uncrossed.
- Face the other person – don’t sit or stand sideways.
- Sit or stand on the same level to avoid looking up to or down on the other person.
- Avoid distracting gestures such as fidgeting with a pen, glancing at papers, or tapping your feet or fingers.
- Be aware that physical barriers, noise or interruptions will make good communication difficult. Mute telephones or other communication devices to ensure you are really listening.
- Let the other person speak without interruption.
- Show genuine attention and interest.
- Use assertive statements like ‘I feel…about…’, ‘What I need is…’.
- Be aware of your tone.
- Be prepared to take time out if you are feeling really angry about something. It might be better to calm down before you address the issue.
- Ask for feedback on your listening from the other person.
Improving communication in a relationship
Open and clear communication can be learnt. Some people find it hard to talk and may need time and encouragement to express their views. These people may be good listeners, or they may be people whose actions speak louder than their words.
You can help to improve your communication by:
- building companionship – sharing experiences, interests and concerns with your partner, and showing affection and appreciation
- sharing intimacy – intimacy is not only a sexual connection. Intimacy is created by having moments of feeling close and attached to your partner. It means being able to comfort and be comforted, and to be open and honest. An act of intimacy can be as simple as bringing your partner a cup of tea because you can tell they are tired
- finding one or 2 key issues you can agree on, such as how finances are distributed, a goal you have, or your parenting styles or strategies.
To improve the way you communicate, start by asking questions such as:
- What things cause conflict between you and your partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other?
- What things bring you happiness and feelings of connection?
- What things cause you disappointment and pain?
- What things don’t you talk about and what stops you talking about them?
- How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?
If possible, ask these questions with your partner and share your responses. Consider, and try, ways to communicate differently. See whether the results improve your communication.
When you are more aware of how you communicate, you will be able to have more control over what happens between you. While it may not be easy at first, opening up new areas of communication can lead to a more fulfilling relationship.
Some things are difficult to communicate
Most of us find some experiences or topics difficult to talk about. It may be something that is painful or makes us feel uncomfortable. For example, some people find it difficult to express their emotions. It is often the things that cannot be talked about that hurt the most.
If you are having difficulty expressing yourself, or talking with your partner about something, you might find it helps to talk to a counsellor.
Managing conflict with communication
Tips for how to manage conflict with communication include:
- Avoid using the silent treatment.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Find out all the facts rather than guessing at motives.
- Discuss what actually happened. Don’t judge.
- Learn to understand each other, not to defeat each other.
- Talk using the future and present tense, not the past tense.
- Concentrate on the major problem, and don’t get distracted by other minor problems.
- Talk about the problems that hurt your or your partner’s feelings, then move on to problems about differences in opinions.
- Use ‘I feel’ statements, not ‘You are’ statements.
Seeking help for communication issues
If you can’t seem to improve the communication in your relationship, consider talking with a relationship counsellor. Counsellors are trained to recognise the patterns in a couple’s communication that are causing problems and to help change those patterns, as well as providing strategies, tips and a safe place to explore issues.
You could also consider doing a course that is relevant to your relationship. It is better to act early and talk to someone about your concerns, rather than wait until things get worse.
Where to get help
- A counsellor
- Relationships Australia Tel. 1300 364 277
- Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) Tel. (03) 9486 3077
- 1800 RESPECT Tel. 1800 737 732
- Beyond Blue Tel. 1300 22 4636
- Family Relationship Advice Line Tel. 1800 050 321
- MensLine Australia Tel. 1300 78 99 78
- Qlife Tel. 1800 184 527
- WIRE (Women’s Information and Referral Exchange) Tel. 1300 134 130
- Partners: a guide to successful adult relationships, Relationships Australia.
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Reviewed on: 24-02-2022
7 Keys to Effective Communication Skills in Relationships
Communication is a fundamental pillar in any relationship – especially romantic relationships. The success of your relationship is determined by how well you can communicate your needs and actively listen to the needs of your partner. Ineffective communication patterns often lead to conflict and misunderstandings because without the right skills, your needs remain unmet.
When either partner is unable to identify and share their feelings or needs, the chance for resolution is eliminated. This is what tears away at the union. Effective communication skills are a combination of skills and strategies that require each person to learn and apply them consistently. These skills will save your relationship from hours of misunderstandings, disagreements, and conflict.
Components of Communication
Communication is deceptively simple. We all listen and talk – but the presumption that we do these things effectively is grossly inaccurate. Body language and verbal language are our primary methods for acquiring and sharing information as humans. And yet, without intentional effort, we fail miserably.
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Before we discuss what it means to develop effective communication skills, let’s first start with the basics. Communication involves a speaker, a listener, and information. In other words, it involves activity and actors. I liken communication to children on a seesaw. Without coordination and mutual understanding, someone is bound to get hurt or be uncomfortable.
Healthy communication requires that we are effective as both a speaker and a listener. As the speaker, we are responsible for introducing or sharing information. This can be verbal or non-verbal. As a listener, we must receive and observe the information. Together, we must process that information.
7 Communication Pitfalls and Bad Habits
1. The Silent Treatment
Individuals within a relationship try to exert control within their relationship by not speaking to their partner, which creates an emotional distance in order to provoke a reaction.
Failure to express one’s feelings is a form of silent treatment and can be used to hurt the other partner, which is also known as stonewalling. Men generally respond to silent treatment from their partner by waving the white flag and surrendering, while women generally tend to move closer and overly communicate to change the undesired behavior.
2. Disparaging Comments and Insults
Individuals use verbal comments to hurt their partner and to protect what they have perceived to be hurt during an argument. For example, if you know that your partner deals with a certain phobia, it would be unnecessarily hurtful to say something like, “You’re always scared; you need to be a man! Who raised you to be so fearful?”
People use insults like these an alternate form of communication instead of expressing their feelings of hurt caused by someone in or out of the relationship. Using disparaging comments and insults as a form of communication is a display of emotional and verbal abuse, and could linger within the relationship long after the conversation has ended.
3. Yelling and Screaming
Using this form of communication within a relationship drowns the message and creates additional issues that distract the couple from the original conflict or issue. It’s not what you say but how you say it that is so very important. Yelling and screaming is a clear sign of emotional dysregulation from the individual performing that particular behavior.
4. Not Asking for What You Need or Want
Assuming that your partner knows and understands your thoughts is a recipe for having unmet needs, hurt feelings, and complete misunderstanding. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. It is the responsibility of the person with the unmet needs to properly express those needs to increase the chance of the partner gaining an understanding of your needs and then meeting them.
It is never a good idea to listen to half the message but act as if it is entirely factual. This unfortunate pitfall will have the speaker believe you are listening, which will delay the issue getting resolved because the listener is only receiving a certain portion of the entire message.
6. Wrong Time and Place
There is a time and place to have certain conversations due to the nature of the subject and to add appropriate privacy for the couple. If a conversation begins in an undesired location, the message is likely to be completely missed as the listener will check out and focus on the inappropriateness instead of the presenting issue.
Assumptions take place when one or both parties inside the relationship accepts something as truth without verifying. This is the opposite of compassion. Every conversation should have two sides. Checking in with your partner to see if they are actively listening is another form of respect and shows that you are trying to get it right instead of trying to be right.
Effective Communication Skills and Strategies
1. Be Mindful
Always stay in the moment (good or bad) while examining your actions, thoughts, and words toward your partner.
2. Practice Active Listening
Be present, attentive, and focused when it’s time to listen to your partner. Reflective listening is a great way to reassure your partner that you are engaged and interested in what they are saying. For example, saying “I heard you when you said that whenever I don’t make eye contact with you it feels dismissive and you feel less connected.”
This allows your partner to feel that their feelings are being received, and it also provides them the opportunity to add more detail or clarify anything that was said, if necessary. There should be no distractions that may interfere with your conversation. Ensure phones, computers, and TVs are off to maximize the information that is retained.
3. Speak Clearly and with Clarity
Always express the issue or complaint along with a suggestion for action or change. “I did not like how you left the dishes in the sink. It makes me feel like I am doing everything around the house. I would love for you to wash the dishes that you use each night to help me save time in the morning.”
4. Seek Understanding
Seeking understanding allows for relationship investments in that both parties can go as deep as they need to in order to find out the “whys” behind every question and action. “I want to ask you about your comment when you said, ‘I feel frustrated with you for not responding properly. Can you explain that?’” This additional information will provide you with more facts before you respond or make the necessary changes.
5. Use “I” Statements
Using “I” statements provides both individuals with a level of compassion and reassurance that your partner is taking accountability for their part in the conflict or problem.
“I should have taken the extra ten minutes and washed the dishes last night so that you could have used that time for yourself this morning.” This skill of controlling what you can control leaves no doubt that your partner has been heard and that you two are truly working together within the relationship.
6. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions prevent the conversation from being stopped prematurely with a simple “yes” or “no.” Saying “Did you hear me?” leaves no further room for dialogue and understanding, versus “Tell me how you feel about what I just said.” The second option allows your partner to express feelings while giving you an opportunity to clarify facts and stay on topic.
7. Validate Feelings
Validating feelings and communicating that your partner has been heard will contribute to your relationship’s transparency and honesty. This will eliminate your partner from shutting down or feeling unheard. For example, “What I heard you say was that you felt alone in the chores around the house because I left the dishes in the sink. Is that right?” There should always be a focus on the feelings, not the behavior, as the feelings will evoke change.
Results of Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication skills are a must for any healthy relationship. The identification of poor communication is just as important as the use of effective communication skills.
Ultimately, effective communication skills will build:
1. The desire for your partner, because you see each other as solution seekers and not as adversaries
2. Trust because of the nurturing skills used to address feelings and respect the feelings of others
3. Intimacy as each person is looking at the other’s point of view and fighting as teammates against the problem with the goal of getting it right instead of being right.
Whether you want to discuss something trivial or traumatic, these strategies and principles will help you get your message across. All social attachments and bonds are born from communication, but effective communication skills make the difference between a healthy relationship and a toxic one.
As you and your partner continue to practice these strategies and skills, it will become easier to identify your needs and meet the needs of your partner. A healthy relationship requires healthy communication.
“Malibu”, Courtesy of Annette Sousa, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holding Pinkies”, Courtesy of Valentin Antonucci, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Resort”, Courtesy of Damir Spanic, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Walking on the Beach”, Courtesy of Dominic Sansotta, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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Effective communication | Training technology
Effective communication skills are one of the most important and necessary skills to cope with any life situation. Your chances of success at work and in society, gaining respect from friends and family, children, spouse, boss or colleagues all depend on how effectively you communicate.
Half of what people usually try to communicate to others is lost in the process of translation and interpretation. What you are trying to say is not always correctly perceived by the listener, and this can lead to misunderstandings.
Although many people recognize their inefficiency in terms of communication, each of us can develop effective communication skills over time through practice. Such communication is usually more spontaneous, rather than staged or pre-rehearsed, because in this case the speech looks more emotional and convincing.
“Words are the most powerful force available to mankind. We can use this power constructively, using words of encouragement, or destructively, using words of despair. Words have the energy and power to help, hinder, hurt, hurt, offend and humiliate.”
What does effective communication imply?
Effective communication is the transfer of information to the right addressee and obtaining the desired feedback by influencing and attracting attention. Communication is not only getting the information itself, but also understanding the intentions behind it. The full meaning of the message should be conveyed using all effective communication skills, including oral, non-verbal or written.
Communication is always a two-way process. Feedback and interaction are factors to know how successful it was. Another important aspect of effective communication is the ability to listen.
People need to be able not only to speak effectively and confidently, but also to listen and understand what another person or group of people has to say. Effective communication is necessary to change the behavior of other people, properly attuning them to the perception of something and obtaining information from the interlocutor.
Psychosocial problems such as stress and mood swings are additional factors that affect effective communication. To communicate properly, you must always understand your own feelings and emotions.
Why is effective communication so important?
Effective communication can build trust, help people understand you better, gain someone's respect, and develop relationships with others. It is necessary to establish reliable contact, as well as to strengthen relationships as needed.
Through effective communication, unnecessary problems in relationships can be avoided. It can be useful in terms of decision making, formulating conclusions and solving problems through interaction in conflict situations. It can also come in handy if you need to report something unpleasant. Good relationships with people reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. You will also always have reliable social support.
Working in a team or group of like-minded people also requires effective communication skills. Achieving consensus is possible only through communication between people. You must have the confidence to influence people and make them believe in you.
Good communication with family and friends can help you share your problems and feelings with them. Effective communication is essential for the development of friendships and contacts. You don't have to depend on other people to say things for you if you can do it yourself.
Some of the most effective communication skills are:
- Listening skills
- Ability to speak briefly
- Ability to show interest
- The ability not to be reprehensible
- Ability to accurately use non-verbal means of communication
- Coping with stress
- Ability to speak clearly and distinctly
The role of barriers in effective communication and how to overcome them
Communication barriers prevent our messages from reaching the interlocutor's mind or distort them so that they lose their original meaning and message. There are many barriers that can prevent effective communication, including physical (distance, noise, etc.), physiological (hearing or speech impairments), sociocultural (cultural differences), semantic (signs and symbols), or language itself.
Other factors can also act as barriers: environment, stress, context, intervention, emotional imbalance, lack of interest or focus, inconsistent body language, etc.
Barriers to effective communication can be overcome by appropriate means - using shorter sentences, better organizing the message before sending it, practicing, empathy and mindfulness, avoiding prejudice, information "noise", etc.
Verbal and non-verbal communication
Effective communication involves both verbal and non-verbal communication. Your body language shows your intentions as well as words. Non-verbal signs sometimes speak more sincerely than the words themselves. Facial expression, hand movements, eye contact, posture, intonation - all these things people pay attention to when you speak. In the same way, you should pay attention to this when you follow the speech of the interlocutor.
Many people find it difficult to start a conversation and some don't know how to keep it going once started. Social phobia is quite common. Confident communication is not easy, but you must learn to defend your position in front of your interlocutors. If what you are saying does not reach people and does not "hook" them, then it is unlikely to lead you to success.
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Psycho-social and environmental factors in effective communication
Effective communication is the ability to correctly address the social and cultural "background" of another person. If the social and cultural environment of the interlocutors is different, their messages will not be interpreted properly, since the social reality of both will be at different levels.
The context or environment also affects the effectiveness of communication, as people should not laugh when someone cries. Position should always complement the situation. Effective communication is when social, cultural or environmental factors are used to influence people and communicate clear messages to them.
Effective and ineffective communication
Do you think so? asked the March Hare.
“Yes, I think so,” said Alice. “I mean, I think I can guess if I can.” But it's one and the same.
"Of course not the same thing," shouted the Hatter. - Is it the same thing to say: "I see everything I eat" or "I eat everything I see?"
" Alice in Wonderland", Lewis Carroll
In this dialogue you can see an example of effective and ineffective communication. If a message is interpreted differently than expected, then it can be considered ineffective. Saying what someone means and meaning what someone says are completely different things. Such messages create confusion and misunderstanding.
Thus, learning effective communication skills is an extremely important step in the life of every person.
Effective communication - PowerPoint presentation
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Communication in the family. Psychologist's advice
- By Irina
- motherhood, relationships, fatherhood
What could be easier than saying what you think? But often people experience great difficulties in everyday communication. You say one thing, but close people hear something completely different, and, as a result, there is misunderstanding, resentment and quarrels from scratch.
But, fortunately, there are simple tips to help you communicate with your family members. And, of course, communication skills are universal. You can also use all of today's tips (with some corrections) outside the family circle and even in your professional activities.
Effective Family Communication
Communication is more than just sharing information. Communication assumes that the participants in communication understand each other's emotional states and desires, which lie behind the formal meaning of words. Communication is a movement towards each other. I will add that effective communication is a movement towards each other. In effective communication, partners not only convey information clearly and interpret it correctly, but also make their partner feel accepted, respected and understood.
Effective communication requires
- Pay attention to non-verbal messages (body language).
- Be able to listen to the interlocutor.
- To be able to defend one's own principles and needs, while not hurting the dignity of the interlocutor.
First things first.
Attention to non-verbal communication or body language .
Body language is facial expressions, gestures, body movements, eye contact, breathing, intonation. Often, the way a person looks at you, listens to you or gestures, you can get a lot of information. Sometimes this information conflicts with what the person says directly. Such a contradiction between verbal and non-verbal messages creates significant difficulties in communication. For example, you ask your spouse how he is doing, and in response you get an on-duty “normal”. But by all the appearance of the spouse, it is clear that he is upset. The voice is quiet, the corners of the lips are lowered, and so on.
Therefore, effective communication requires that your verbal and non-verbal messages match. Then the interlocutor will not have to guess which of the sources of information (verbal or non-verbal) more reliably reflects the real state of affairs.
Another tip is to remember that people are different and body language can vary greatly from person to person. This is especially evident in the example of cultural differences, people of different nationalities can put different meanings into the same gesture. Therefore with the interpretation of body language, you need to be quite careful.
It will be useful to rely not on individual non-verbal signals (for example, not only on posture or eye contact), but on the totality of bodily manifestations , on what general impression they make on you. Body language is a very ancient acquisition in terms of human evolutionary development, therefore it does not convey subtle nuances, but rather reflects global categories - like or like, whether the interlocutor agrees with you or not.
Effective communication is more about a person's ability to listen than how well they communicate their own thoughts. A person who knows how to listen understands not only the meaning of what is said, but also the unspoken message of the interlocutor: his experiences, hopes and expectations. The ability to listen allows the interlocutor to feel understood, which, in turn, strengthens relationships and forms close affection. A person who feels that he is heard and understood in the family appreciates these relationships very much and is ready to compromise more often than someone who is deprived of the opportunity to be heard.
So how do you learn to listen?
- Concentrate on communication with the interlocutor , not be distracted by the phone, TV, your own thoughts. That is why one of the most common tips for working parents is to spend quality time with your child. dedicate at least 30 minutes of time to him in the evening after work and deal only with him. By “engaging” I mean socializing, not checking lessons, cutting nails, or other household chores. The same is true for the communication of spouses, who, in order to maintain a healthy atmosphere, need to allocate time that is devoted only to you two.
- Do not interrupt and do not insert your "five cents", but give the person the opportunity to say everything that he wanted to share. By demonstrating such a respectful attitude towards the interlocutor, you will receive maximum information, and the interlocutor will be touched by your participation.
- Show interest in the story of the interlocutor , cheer him up with brief “yes”, “uh-huh”, nods of the head, you can ask small clarifying questions. But the main thing is to be sincere in your interest in the interlocutor. This rule is usually not easy to follow in a business relationship. Not every colleague is interesting to you, this is understandable. But in the family, the situation is quite different. You communicate with those you love, the husband or wife you have chosen, or with the child you know from the cradle and have seen all the stages of his life. In such a situation, it is much easier to show true interest, although sometimes everyday life and everyday fatigue tries to get in your way.
- Do not judge, judge or give unsolicited advice . Perhaps this is the most difficult thing in our culture. Because if a person shares his problems with someone, then most of the interlocutors feel obliged to help, that is, to give certain recommendations. If the interlocutor asks for advice, this is one situation. And if a spouse or child tells you what difficulties he had during the day, then most likely he just wants to be listened to and understood. Therefore, such conversations can be supported by the phrase that “I understood (or understood), you are tired at work or at school today, you were shouted at and you are offended.” Naturally, the content of the statement depends on what the spouse or child told you.
To be able to defend one's own principles and needs without hurting the interlocutor. In psychology, this is called assertiveness and is one of the most important components of effective interaction.
It is this skill that is the most difficult and many clients come with a request to learn how to communicate directly, confidently, learn to express their emotions and needs, and not push them to the background to please the needs of loved ones. Such assertive behavior does not at all mean that a person does not respect others or intentionally wants to offend them. After all, effective communication is all about being understood. And a person with assertive behavior makes it easy to understand what exactly he thinks and wants.
Small tips to help you be more assertive in your communication:
- Value your own opinion. Your opinion is no less important than the opinion of others. Yes, no matter how old your interlocutor is, what his life experience, income level or social status. Your opinion, even if it turns out to be erroneous in the future according to your own estimates, means as much as the opinion of any other person.
- Recognize and meet your needs and needs. This will allow you to be in a resourceful state, to be full of energy to communicate and respond to others and their behavior adequately. This factor underlies parental burnout, when the person caring for the child, most often the mother, takes so little care of himself (about eating, washing, being in silence or, conversely, in the circle of others, adults, people), that can not adequately respond to the needs of the child. She often breaks down, forbids a lot of things to the child and cannot rejoice with him over trifles.
- Express negative emotions, but do not insult family members and interlocutors. Here it is important to talk about your feelings, and not the behavior of a loved one. The scheme is something like this: “I am offended / sad / annoyed, etc.” instead of "You offended / brought me / annoyed me." Such I-statements reduce the degree of conflict and set in a constructive way.
- Learn to say no. A very difficult task, but necessary to maintain one's own psychological integrity. You need to understand the limitations of your strengths and capabilities and not allow others to use you simply because it is difficult for you to refuse.
Attention to body language, listening skills and assertive behavior are key skills for effective communication. But there are a number of skills that have an auxiliary function, but without them, communication cannot be considered effective. Here are some of them:
- The ability to recognize one's own and others' emotional reactions.
- Good resistance to stress , because a person under stress and at the peak of emotions can neither listen to the interlocutor, nor notice his non-verbal messages, and in general does not always behave as he would like.