Social Question

silverangel's avatar

Is there a way to have a better handling of words when expressing one's feelings?

Asked by silverangel (933 points ) December 20th, 2011

I just got the idea and thought that some people can have their way with words naturally and others can’t. I’m talking about expressing one’s feelings not only love confessions but in general.
I mean sometimes you want to tell somebody something but can’t find the right words to express it, you can even use the wrong words causing misunderstandings. For example when you refuse something offered to you from someone, the way in which you say your “no” may or may not hurt that person and that’s just a simple example (although it is referring to how to be polite). Well I am talking about general conversation not just saying yes or no, I hope I am giving the right point…
Anyway, I know that happens with most people sometimes but it happens more frequently with some people than others.
So I wondered if there is a way to improve the way in which people use words in order to minimize the probability of hurting the others due to being incapable of using words correctly.

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21 Answers

silverangel's avatar

It’s seems that I may be one of those people… :/ Well I hope you get what I am talking about :)

prasad's avatar

Me too.
I guess it requires :
1. A good vocabulary.
2. Listening to others attentively.
3. Think before you talk.
4. Make use of tone, voice, etc.
5. Body language when suitable.

After all, it is conveying your message across accurately is more important than using big words just to impress others.

zenvelo's avatar

Part of it is making “I” statements about how one feels. Don’t be accusatory, describe the situation, not the person. Try saying “when this happens…” instead of “when you do this…”; and then “I feel…”.

Also, pick your time to talk if you can. When you are angry it makes it harder to control what you say. Bring up both positive and negative stuff when things are being calmly discussed.

And listen to what the other person is saying, so you can reflect it back.

smilingheart1's avatar

Silverangel, you pose an excellent question. I think it takes a lifetime’s vigilance on a daily basis to develop such tact and is an indicator of a quality individual when one cares more about how they respond and react in the eyes and ears of the other than their own right to express any way they choose. You are well on the way when you care that much. The hard part I believe is that different words and phrases trigger various associations from person to person and a lot of time you can’t tell what others really registered. I find recording close conversations as an exercise from time to time helps us see how we are relating.

marinelife's avatar

Practice. Write out what you want to say beforehand. Think of the possible responses of other people and practice what your response to each of those will be.

Read to develop your “voice” and your vocabulary.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

A well-developed vocabulary definitely helps in effective communication, but not saying what you really mean seems to be the problem that leads to most misunderstandings. Take a minute to formulate in your mind what you are really trying to communicate to the other person. The example that comes to mind is the end of “Forrest Gump”, when he is putting his son on the school bus and says “Forrest, don’t forget to…....I mean, I just wanted to say that I love you.”

gailcalled's avatar

@silverangel: If English is not your first language, it will be a challenge to use words that depict emotions or feelings precisely.

There are no short cuts. If you are writing something, have a friend whose first language is English, edit and explain.

Keeping things simple is also a good idea.

“I am sorry if what I said wasn’t clear.”
“I am sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly.”
” I am sorry. English isn’t my native language.”
“No, thank you. But thanks for asking.”

Give us a specific example. We’ll help.

wundayatta's avatar

Communication is just fraught with ambiguity. That’s the way it is. You can not… you simply CAN NOT have any guarantee that anyone will understand your words the way you mean them.

What I end up doing is just constantly checking and rechecking with the person I am talking to to see if they seem to be understanding my words the way I meant them. This is one of the reasons why I write more than anyone else here. I say things one way, and then another and then still another, and even then I’m pretty sure I haven’t said things very well.

But, repetition is a common technique. Say it over and over and over again. Also seek feedback. What do you think I just said? Say it in your own words? Did you say this?

Sometimes I’ll hear someone say something in an ambiguous way and I think they conveyed a message opposite of the one they meant to convey. My instinct is to pipe up and tell them I think they were misunderstood, but I don’t. Getting involved usually makes things even more messy. Better to let them sort out their own issues. I am only an interloper and I may have completely misunderstood what is going on.

Communication isn’t easy. You just have to keep on checking and rechecking to assess how well you have been understood, or how well you have understood someone else.

Does that make sense?

silverangel's avatar

@wundayatta It does make sense.
@gailcalled I am talking about oral informal everyday conversation using one’s native language so I am excluding any possibility of lack of vocabulary as some said. As an example let’s say someone who knows a lot of simple and sophisticated vocabulary but still incapable of expressing exactly what he’s thinking to others… you know what I mean?

gailcalled's avatar

@silverangel: Sorry, I do not know what you mean.

Are you talking about someone who speaks in an awkward or clumsy manner or simply with inappropriate words?

Give us an example. (Conversation is, by definition, oral, so you don’t have to use both words.)

Someone who knows a lot of both simple and sophisticated vocabulary has all his bases covered. There are no other choices left, are there?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Yes, @silverangel , we need you to clarify. If you are talking about someone with a good vocabulary and someone who is speaking in their own language, then what is the problem with expressing their thoughts and feelings in an effective way?

silverangel's avatar

Sorry it seems I made a bit complicated :/ ... let’s see… how about not knowing when to use the right words in the right moment, like pinpointing the correct moment to say something, is that alright?

gailcalled's avatar

Then you simply need to be sure of the definitions of the word or words you want to use (before you use them).

Give us examples of several words.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

So, is your timing off, or do you not know the right words to use, which would be a vocabulary issue.

silverangel's avatar

yup it’s the timing thing

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

That’s a tough one. I have to leave my office now, but will think on it and give you a better answer later. :)

flutherother's avatar

Most face to face communication is non verbal.

DaphneT's avatar

@silverangel, if timing your conversation is an issue then consider your level of eye contact: are you locked in, not blinking, or not looking; assess your posture in relation to theirs, are you both sideways to each other, full face, head ducking, curled shoulders…; check your breathing, slow and steady allows your brain time to produce the right words with the right tones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-verbal_communication

prasad's avatar

For vocabulary, I found these titles helpful.
Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
30 days to a more powerful vocabulary by Norman Lewis and Wilfred Funk
And, here are more books related to English and vocabulary.

To find the exact words when you need them, I was told to read more and more, see the words in context, first guess at its meaning, and consult dictionary if required.

Reading should not be focused only to our liking, we should come out of our cocoons, and explore all areas of life.

I started reading English newspapers; they are really good – in vocabulary and apt word usage. And also, since I was aware of the news, it becomes easy to pick up. In early days, I read first local newspaper in my mother tongue, then I read same news in English papers. You can guess how easy it becomes for me then to understand news in English and see how words can be used.

For speaking, if you know someone who is good with words, you can observe how they talk, use words, etc. You can pick one by one.

You can read magazines like Reader’s Digest; and one I was told is aldaily (really hard one for me!). You can solve crosswords in newspapers, websites, etc.

All the best!

gailcalled's avatar

It was Will Rogers (I think) who said that you have to use a new word three times before it is yours. I have followed his advice, and thus, want to mention that “happily” is a sentenial adverb (thanks to @morphail.)

dabbler's avatar

I think introspection helps.
Internally let thoughts develop and “hear” what the words sound like together before they come out the mouth. Don’t let them out until your satisfied. Being able to wait until you’ve got a well developed thought to say is a good skill.

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