• Dr. Jin Lee

Why Communication Breakdown Happens and 4 Steps to Repair the Breakdown


Communication breakdowns happen between parents and child, but there is a way to repair the breakdown.

I started the blog because I want to share concrete and useful tips and tools for improving your mental health well-being. However, with the recent series of events happening in the world, I have been pondering many things. Among them, a theme of communication keeps coming to my mind.

So today, I would like to talk about communication. If you are wondering why a communication breakdown occurs and wanting to improve your communication skills, this blog talks about it.


Why does a communication breakdown happen?


Let’s be honest. Disagreement happens all the time, whether with others or within yourself, and there is nothing wrong with it. We can disagree on various thoughts and decisions.

In this context, I’m talking about the escalating emotional charge when a communication breakdown occurs.

There are many ways to analyze the mechanism of communication breakdown or conflict, and one of the most important elements to consider is “hearing vs. listening.”


According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a word “hear,” means, “to receive… by ear.” A word “listen,” means, “… to hear something with thoughtful attention.”

The below is my version of hearing vs. listening.

If you are literally hearing what the other person is saying WITHOUT experiencing escalating emotional reactions, then you will probably be hearing. For instance, when you ask your child how she is doing, she says, “fine.”

If you think you are hearing what the other person is saying but respond with an emotional charge, then the chances are that you are listening to your own inner voice. Using the above example, you may hear your child saying “fine” but in your head, you may think, “Gosh, she sounds irritable. What’s wrong with her?”


As long as you are listening to your internal dialogue, you are more inclined to follow those voices. Therefore, continuing from the above example, you may respond to your child by saying something like, “Jeez, I’m just asking a question. You don’t have to that snappy at me.” Then, in response, your child may become upset. See the communication breakdown?

How do I repair from the communication breakdown?


So, how do you repair from the communication breakdown? Here are 4 steps:

Step 1. Check the fact: Every time you communicate with others, ask yourself, “Am I hearing what’s being said verbatim or am I listening to my own internal dialogue?”

Step 2. Ask: If you are not sure of what the other person said, you can always ask, “did I hear this right?”

Step 3. Apologize: We all make mistakes. If you listened to your internal dialogue (or your story), then make amends for not hearing what the other person said.

Step 4. Repeat steps 1-3. When you learn something new, it takes time to get used to it. Just like you are training to ride a bicycle. With time and practice, you will get better, and soon, this skill will become part of you.

If you are still struggling or needing extra help, always consider seeking help from professionals. I am more than happy to chat and give you personalized guidance. Please contact me.

Until next time... stay well:)


Your Pediatric Psychologist,

Jin Lee, PsyD, MSCP, BCB

#communication #communicationbreakdown #howtoimprovecommunication #mentalhealth #childpsychology #pediatricpsychology #psychoeducation #yourpediatricpsychology #yourpediatricpsych

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