In sober living situations, you’re usually living with other people of the same gender who are in recovery. Communication is a valuable skill you should try to learn while living with others in sobriety. All sober living communities have rules, but for the most part, it’s up to the occupants to make sure that things get done. Learning to communicate with others in your living situation is vial to taking responsibility for your own life.
Sober living lifestyles also sometimes include opportunities to communicate with and rebuild your family life. You might also have house meetings where there is mediation to help you communicate any concerns you have or resolve conflicts. It can be difficult in early recovery to learn how to communicate with others healthily. But it’s worth it for everyone.
Better Communication in Daily Life
Better communication doesn’t just extend to your housemates. You probably have family and friends that are happy to see you sober. There are good and bad times with all relationships. People argue that even in healthy relationships. Learning to communicate better benefits not only yourself but also the people you love.
Think about how many people you speak to or interact with daily. On your way to and from appointments, meetings, and other destinations, you come in contact with a lot of people. Whether you take the bus, walk, or drive, there are people everywhere you go. Learning to listen and interact with others is a vital skill.
Learn to Walk Away From Arguments
If you’re hot-headed, wait to cool down. It may take a while for you to cool your temperature, but it’s better than blowing up. Let the person you’re communicating with know that you’re going to take a walk and cool down. Ask them if you can talk about it in a few hours (or a day, if you need that much time.)
Don’t make accusations. Tell the person how you feel about the situation, rather than accuse them of making you feel that way. Most people probably have no idea how their actions affect you.
Even if you don’t have anger issues, you can always benefit from pushing the “pause” button and talking to a recovery friend about your anger. You may need help planning what you want to say to the person you’re angry with. Or, you may owe them an apology, too.
Feelings, after all, aren’t facts.
Being Present in the Conversation
Let the other person know that you’re listening. Ask questions, and let them know you’re truly listening. Sometimes it’s helpful to repeat some information about the conversation back to them to let them know you’re listening.
Let’s say Tom tells you about getting stranded on the road in the middle of the night. Letting him know you agree it’s a scary situation, and asking him what he did next is a perfectly natural thing to say.
Sometimes you’ll have to listen to a person who is making you feel uncomfortable. They may say things that hurt your feelings and make you angry. You may discover that the best thing to do is to listen and absorb. In most cases, you don’t have to respond to somebody right away. (In a work situation, you probably do, so choose your words carefully.) Let them know you need time to process what they’ve said. Hopefully, they can respect this.
Acknowledge a Person’s Feelings
Everyone has feelings. Listening to a person may not tell you what you need to know about how they feel. Pay attention to their body language and voice. Sometimes the person who is angry is harboring hurt feelings.
Sometimes, it helps to apologize for something you didn’t mean to do. A simple statement can change the outcome of a conversation. Try it like this: “I never meant to make you feel that way. I’m so sorry.” A simple statement that acknowledges hurt feelings can help.
Don’t Interrupt People
Many times, you’ll want to interrupt while the person is talking. Another person’s perspective may be painful to hear, but part of the healing is listening and absorbing what has been said. You’ll get your turn to communicate your perspective/feelings too.
Sometimes the best thing to do is be humble and take some time to think about the other party was saying to you. First, listen to what they say and ask questions at the end. Let them know you may need some time to process what they’re talking about.
If you need to work on an issue, you may need to follow-up as well. For example, you may need to simply do your dishes from dinner. You may need to make a doctor’s appointment or a day to spend with your sponsor. Listen to others, and you’ll learn what people expect from you. If it isn’t reasonable, let them know. The point is to keep communicating, and you’ll keep growing. It will help you set boundaries and meet healthy expectations.
Learn More About Sober Living
Sober living is a great way for a person in recovery to learn to work their daily program and begin to become more independent along the way. Learn more about sober living and your choices at 1-800-626-4014.