Ways to say stuff when words fail

I love words. And yet sometimes I fail with them. Sometimes I struggle for the language to express my feelings or needs. Other times I’m sure I’ve got the words right but the person I’m trying to communicate with is unable to hear them. Their mind is reeling or their emotions are raging and there is no use.

Recently I tried to have a conversation that left me feeling exhausted, speechless, and starved for understanding. Words were not working. There must be some other way to create a moment of understanding between two people. Perhaps some sort of novelty to jolt the mind and entice the heart?

And so in an effort to recycle my pain and frustration and rise again with new found hope for communication I made this short list of alternative ways to express intentions, concerns, boundaries, or desires to another human being.

1. A Comic strip – This could be fun and meditative and at the very least entertaining for the both of you. Which may lighten the mood and help the other person to give the subject matter more attention.

I love looking to Jude and Maya Devir for comical relationship inspiration. Sometimes I’ll simply text a pic of one of their clips to my husband – no words necessary.

2. A Graph – Some of us are more linear thinkers. Graphs, charts, numbers, percents, just hit us deeper. I thought, why not try to convert my point into a table or graph. It may show the other person that I have consideration for their thinking style which could in turn help them to consider mine…

A graph to show My Levels of Ability to Listen w/ an Open Heart/Mind (as a result of Communication Style)

3. An interpretive dance – It could work… I’m just saying if you are naturally skilled at dances that demonstrate your feelings do it!

This guy and his mom are such an inspiration to me. And a source of comical relief.

4. A Meal – You could create a meal that is representative of what you value or desire and explain it in small tasty bites. Everything from food types to dish shape can be considered. A sweet dish may represent the sweetness you wish to experience in the relationship. Pasta shells could hone in on the symbolism shells have in regards to listening, perhaps you want to listen more to each other with out interrupting. The meal in its entirety provides a taste (no pun intended… ok it was) of what you may need from the relationship in general, a situation where everyone is left nourished in the end.

Someone recently prepared a very sweetly symbolic meal for me and it was one of the most wonderful expressions. The theme was honoring female relationships. Intentions and desires were subtly disclosed as we feasted on cabbage soup, garden vegetables, and homemade rolls stuffed with corn beef and handmade relish. We soothed our souls with sips of rose tea as we shared hard things and intuitive things with each other. It was truly perfect and powerful.

5. A Podcast – Podcasts can offer perspective and new information. If there is a subject you are hoping to gain more knowledge in or want to convey insight on to someone else you might try searching for a podcast on the topic from a source you both consider credible. This can be a great a way to ease tension and provide scope in a discussion. It takes both you and the other person out of the conversation altogether while you listen to experts discuss the subject. Then you can continue your own discussion once you have both processed the new information.

I have a friend who shares podcasts with her husband on topics like nonviolent communication (NVC), menstruation, and parenting. And he listens! Another couple I know does a weekly podcast trade. She often sends him one podcasts a week about intimacy or relationships or personal growth. In exchange he may send her one on health and fitness, wealth building, or travel. This is a sweet way for them to share their personal interests and dreams with each other as well as explore tricky subjects.

6. A Song – Music is so universal. A song need not even have lyrics to evoke feelings or tell a story. And there are also songs written by gifted individuals that seem to say it all.

This website lets you search songs by like every topic ever!

7. A Text – sometimes texting is way more effective than talking. There tends to be more consideration and time taken to both write and read a text.

Here are some text templates to help you express your vision, request what you need, and ask for feedback.

8. A Vision-board – You could make a vision board to demonstrate all kinds of different feelings, desires, and intentions you have for a particular relationship or situation and share it with the person.

Talking is hard sometimes. Words are weird and can become worn out. However, communication is crucial for lasting, loving relationships. So keep trying. Keep it fresh and real. And perhaps most importantly keep listening.

4 thoughts on “Ways to say stuff when words fail

  1. An artful post, Kenzie…

    Seems to me one of life’s relational arts is trying to meet someone in their ‘thinking style’ while being true to your own – and hoping for the spark of connection and understanding.

  2. Love it Kenzie!! Thank you for these. And such a great example of how to work through our own issues creatively and with a desire to grow. I’m book marking this one for future reference 🙂

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