#33: Ten Common Communication Myths

#33: Ten Common Communication Myths

Today’s episode explores ten common interpersonal myths. These myths can prevent us from being as effective in relationships as we like.

Some of these myths are about how we “should” be or how others “should” be. Some of these myths are about conflict, or about whether it’s ok to assert our need or say no.

Often we learn these myths from our families when we are young, and it’s helpful to recognize and name them so they don’t dictate what we do in relationships.

In this episode, we unpack each myth: where they come from, and ways to challenge them so you can improve your interpersonal skills. 

Show Highlights

  • I just don’t deserve to get what I want or need in relationships.
    • This myth is about feeling like you have to earn care or feeling at a deep level that you are not deserving.
  • Asking for things makes me look weak or like a wimp.
    • There is an underlying belief that needing things in a relationship is asking for too much. This is also related to difficulties with vulnerabilities and the belief that you should always be self-reliant.
  • Conflict is a bad thing.
    • Many folks haven’t learned how to have different needs or opinions, which can make conflict feel dangerous or scary. Many of us have also had the experience of conflict not getting resolved, which is painful. Conflict is uncomfortable and inevitable, and we need skills to tolerate the discomfort.
    • Avoiding conflict often means that important things aren’t being said and are getting buried which damages relationships in the long run.
  • If I ask for something or say no to someone, I can’t handle it if they get upset with me.
    • This myth is related to the previous myth about conflict and not being able to manage it. We all need to take risks in relationships by asking for what we want or saying no at times. This is one way to ensure you’re having authentic connections with others.
  • If someone says no to me, it will kill me.
    • This particular myth crops up a lot in dating due to fear of rejection. Distress Tolerance skills can help you manage rejection in dating. If you can’t handle someone saying no, then you might never ask for things, which spells disaster for relationships. 
  • Asking for things is selfish, pushy, or bad.
    • This is related to the myth that you don’t deserve to ask for things. This myth also assumes that being assertive is a negative thing. Conditioning around gender roles and different cultural norms also informs this myth.
  • It’s not ok to say no or it’s selfish to say no to others.
    • Sometimes it can feel like saying no is more rude or selfish than asking for things. We might make the assumption that saying no to someone’s request will hurt them but we can’t assume this. Sometimes saying no to someone’s request will hurt their feelings and this is unavoidable.
  • Being a good partner, parent, child, friend, etc. means I should be able to put their needs ahead of mine.
    • This myth is based on extreme thinking: either I am taking care of myself or others. Sometimes we do need to put our needs ahead of others.
  • I shouldn’t have to ask for what I want or need. It’s a sign of your love of caring for you to just know what I need ahead of time.
    • It feels great when those close to us intuit our needs, but expecting this to happen 100% of the time is unrealistic. Other people can’t read our minds; we need to articulate what we want or need.
  • They should just know better. 
    • There is a lot of judgment in this myth, and judgments in relationships often cause the other person to go on the defensive.

Links & Resources

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition

Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS)

Ask us a Question

We’d love to hear from you! Where are you getting stuck with your skills application? Ask us a question for the chance to have it answered on the podcast. Submit your question here. 

Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.