Effective Communication in your Relationship
How important is effective communication in your relationships?
Communication is a vital ingredient in our relationships for a happy, harmonious and healthy life.
In fact, mental health counselors and similar professionals have determined that there is a direct link between communication and increased happiness in life.
Think about it. We communicate our wants and needs. We want the other person to know our likes and dislikes.
And most importantly, we want to tell the other person our appreciation of them. What's more, in a relationship we want to build trust, respect, honesty and a feeling of being connected with the other person.
In short, we want to know how best to communicate so that the other person gets the message and responds accordingly.
Now, you might think that you communicate just fine. It's the other person that needs to brush up on how they communicate.
Yeah, I know, I've been there too...
"Why doesn't he understand what I mean? I've said it so clearly. And why doesn't he listen to me? If he listened he would get what I'm saying..." And on and on...
You're probably familiar with this kind of thinking.
Now... when you think about it, when I communicate something and the other person responds differently to what I expect, wouldn't it be up to me to change how I communicate so that I get the response that I'm looking for?
Let's take a closer look...
Let's suppose, my partner and I are sitting in the lounge watching TV. My partner just opened the window a little to let some fresh air in. As it gets progressively cooler in the room, I'm pulling up the collar of my shirt and hunch my shoulders a little.
This alone could mean a lot of things. It could be a non-verbal communication for my partner to shut the window again. Or, it could mean that I would like him to bring me a blanket. It could even mean that I'm getting ready to get up and close the window but just wanted to watch the end of the episode.
Taking the first two situations, I could think, "Oh heck, he's so insensitive. He doesn't see that I'm getting cold. Why doesn't he shut the window again? And why isn't he bringing me a blanket if he wants the window open? It's so typical, he doesn't notice."
And then I could say to him, "Aren't you cold, honey?" (expecting him to realise that I want him to close the window).
And he might reply, "Not at all, it's nice to have a bit of fresh air in here."
I'll bet you can guess what might happen next...
I'm sure you can imagine the mounting frustration and resentment building up inside me.
But here's my point: I didn't get the response I wanted from him. Could there be a better way to communicate my wants and needs?
"Of course", you say. "Just tell him that you're getting cold and that you would like him to shut the window." It's obvious, isn't it. Common sense.
But how many times do we expect somebody to read our minds? And then, when they don't, we get all worked up because it's all their fault. The whole situation starts to become complicated.
How much better would it be if we knew some effective communication skills? Actually, we have these skills already because I'm sure we all have been able to communicate effectively at some time so that we got the response we expected.
And yet sometimes it's the crucial times when we really need those skills, when for some reason they don't seem to come to the front. For some reason something the other person says triggers another response in us, and we're not doing it the way that has worked before.
In my experience, when we become more aware of what we say and how we say it, we have more control of what response we get. The same is true for becoming aware of the things that are not so helpful for getting the response we expect.
Here are a couple of the things that, when avoided in your communication, will enhance your relationships and you will feel more respected and happy. You will have more trust, honesty and closeness. In other words: relationships that work.
- Sarcasm is a dead ringer for destroying a relationship, sooner or later. Don't disguise a serious issue you have with a sarcastic, biting remark. It is not funny, and it hurts. Make a direct observation and ask for an honest and open discussion.
- Interrupting the other person is another of my favourite no-goes. It's downright rude not letting the other person finish what they are saying. It gives them the impression that you're not really listening. Not really valuing their opinion because you've made up your mind already what the right answer is. People want to be listened to and to be understood. They then in turn will listen to you and understand you.
So... the interesting thing now is: do you want to be right, or do you want the results?