Here's the thing about communication; it's inevitable. Whether you are the life of the party or the biggest introvert on this planet; at any given stage of your daily life, you are communicating. Even if you are not saying a word to anybody, you are still communicating… Let me explain:
The Webster's Dictionary defines “communication” as the transmitting of information or ideas, between individuals, through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. In other words: the giving/sending of information or ideas. If there is a giver, there has to be a receiver, so the giving and receiving of information, concepts or ideas between at least two individuals at a time, be it verbally or non-verbally.
If we analyse this definition of communication we find that; you are also communicating through your actions and your behavior; not only through verbal or written words, as many still believe. So when communicating with someone – be aware of the message that your body language, your tone of voice and your facial expressions are conveying.
Non-verbal communication is a huge field of study on its own, but in short; this is why writing letters or e-mails or sending SMS messages are NOT A GOOD IDEA when dealing with sensitive issues – much rather go and talk to the person in question, face to face, so that the message you truly want to convey, is coming through loud and clear because of the fact that your (very often)unconscious non-verbal communication, carries just as much weight – if not more – than your verbal communication does.
So many misunderstandings results from written communication. A message that was intended as a non-threatening question could in fact, quite easily come through as a very serious accusation for e.g.
The fact that there is a giver and a receiver, to me, definitely suggests that both parties have an active role to play when communicating with one another. The giver has to make sure that he gives the information in such a way that the receiver can “receive” the information correctly. The receiver on the other hand, has to make sure that he receives exactly what has been given. You might be saying…”duh” But it's not as easy as it sounds.
The fact that communication occurs between individuals is where this gets interesting. You and I communicate differently. We speak differently, we act and react differently. The definition states that communication occurs through a common set of beliefs or symbols, but this is a bit problematic. I read a book by Dr Harville Hendrix and he also states that the meaning of concepts or phrases differ from person to person. He used the very interesting example of the phrase: “let's talk about it”. If you grew up in a family where this meant: you throw around a couple of ideas until one or both of you get bored and then put the discussion on hold till further notice, it is more than understandable that your partner – for who this exact same phrase meant: we sit around a table and discuss this situation in earnest with a clear goal or decision as an end result-will get furious at you for treating the situation “so lightly”. You, on the other hand, have absolutely no idea what just happened, because you did exactly what you said you were going to do – “you talked about it”.
With regards to conflict resolution, for some, getting straight to the point in a matter-of-fact kind of way, is easier than for others. You might prefer a softer, less confrontational way of dealing with the issue. Someone else might just ignore the problem all together in order to avoid the uncomfortable situation that is “sure to arise” as soon as the subject is broached. What is an “uncomfortable situation” for one (causes discomfort – physically or emotionally) is an opportunity to grow, to understand and to change a situation for another.
It is no wonder that most couples struggle with effective communication!
Take on an active role when communicating with your partner – when he/she is talking, your job is to LISTEN. Try and make sure that you are hearing exactly WHAT it is that your partner is trying to say; don't just listen to the words and attribute your own meaning to it and don't just take the words at face value. Try saying: “what I am hearing is – x y z, am I understanding you correctly, is this what you are saying?” As soon as you “heard correctly” you can respond to what was said. And then you swap roles.
In conclusion – communication is something we do not pay enough attention to at all. We think communicating is easy, we can't understand why our partners just aren't getting what we're trying to say, plenty of marriages are broken up and destroyed each year and in my opinion, ineffective communication plays a huge role here.
If you want to learn how to communicate effectively make an appointment with a counselor TODAY – it will make a huge difference in your everyday life – and might even save your relationship.
See our relationship counselling services for more information