Communication is about sharing our thoughts and feelings. It involves some kind of interchange or conversation. We send and receive messages as we talk about our wants and needs.
Many times, however, our conversations with loved ones end up in misunderstandings and ongoing fights or disagreements.
Why can’t she or he listen? Why do we end up struggling to be heard and understood? It’s as though the words we speak aren’t registering or are constantly being misinterpreted.
In today’s world there are so many ways to communicate. Yet, it seems, our every day discussions with loved ones often break down and our exchanges create misunderstanding and division.
Ineffective communication creates on-going irritation and stress. We begin to see the other in less than loving ways. When communication breaks down between those we love, our relationships begin to unravel.
We need people. We need to share ideas and perspectives – our joys and laughter – our pain and sorrows. We need effective communication to solve problems, share different points of view, meet today’s challenges, hear a different narrative and seek understanding.
Communication is not just speaking but involves careful listening to hear the other’s intent and meaning connected to their words. We convey our messages not only through words and symbols, but through facial expressions, body language and behaviors.
It sounds so simple – so why do we have such difficulty?
- Is a process
- Is circular
- Is non-verbal
- Is continuous – you cannot not communicate
Communication breaks down because
- We haven’t learned how to be effective communicators
- We do not know how to listen, give and ask for feedback for clarification
- We do not know how to ask for what we want
- We do not know how to be assertive without being aggressive
- We haven’t put boundaries in place and do not respect the boundaries of others
- We do not take responsibility for our emotions, reactions and responses
- We don’t take the time to organize our thoughts into understandable messages
- We allow fears to keep from having meaningful discussions
- We want to avoid conflicts so we resist sharing our true opinions or deeply held beliefs
During this next week, pay special attention to your conversations. When do they breakdown? What triggers that breakdown? Have you or your loved one become defensive and find yourself attacking rather than talking?
Although we learn to talk almost as soon as we are walking, we are rarely taught how to communicate. So much pain is endured because we lack the skill of communication. But that skill is easy to learn and has enormous benefits.
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