Please Talk to Me!
The Importance of Communication Skills
When we communicate, we can say a lot without speaking. Our body posture, tone of voice, and the expressions on our faces all convey a message. If our feelings don’t fit with our words, it is often the non-verbal communication that gets “heard”and believed. Notice whether your body language reflects what you are saying, thinking, or feeling.
Communicating clearly in a relationship:
Talk to each other. No matter how well you know and love one other, you cannot read your partner’s mind. We need to communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings that may cause hurt, anger, or confusion.
When you talk to your significant other, attempt to:
• Think about what you want to say and what you are feeling when you say it.
• Be clear about what you want to communicate.
• Be clear about your message so that your partner hears it accurately and understands what you mean.
• Talk about what you want and feel – use “I” statements such as “I need”, “I want” and “I feel”.
• Share positive feelings with your partner, such as what you appreciate, admire, and how important he/she is to you.
Listening to communicate:
Listening skills are an integral part of effective communication. A good listener can encourage their partner to talk openly and honestly. Tips for good listening include:
• Keep comfortable direct eye contact.
• Lean towards your partner and make gestures to show interest and concern.
• Have a fairly relaxed posture with your arms and legs uncrossed (very important).
• Face each other, making sure no obstacles are in the way– don’t sit or stand sideways.
• Sit or stand on the same level to avoid looking up to or down on your partner.
• Avoid distracting gestures such as fidgeting or using devices like cell phones, mobile tablets, glancing at papers, or tapping your feet or fingers.
• Be aware that physical barriers, noise or interruptions ( children, television, radio) will make good communication difficult.
• Show genuine attention and interest.
• Ask for feedback from your partner on your listening.
• Repeat to the your partner what the you heard for clarification and understanding.
Food for Thought--We all communicate without knowing it!
Communication is essential in all relationships as it allows us to share interests, aspirations, and concerns. It allows us to support one other, to harmonize our lives, to make cooperative decisions, and to work together in caring for one another. Good communication is not just about the way we talk, but the way we listen, to our demeanor (body language ).
Just recently my wife would make what I called a “Chihuahua face” when she disagreed with something I said or requested from her. I let it go for a while; however, eventually, I started to harbor some resentment towards her non-verbal response. As a result, I asked her if she would she please stop making that face because it made me feel like she did not care or was angry with me for some unknown reason. In like manner, there have been multiple times when my wife would begin a conversation with me, and I would start walking away to get something done or not give her direct eye contact which she requested. This would make her feel like I was not listening to her or that I did not care about what she had to say. I do admit this is something I continue to work on. However, I am aware of her concerns, and I am making a concerted effort to change. As we all know, change does not happen overnight. It is important to be patient with others and gentle towards oneself. My wife and I are constantly learning how to communicate with each other and our children in a manner that is both healthy and meets our individual needs. Do we get it right at all times? No, but having open communication prevents future issues from arising because each person has their own history that may affect the interpretation of what message is being conveyed. If you can’t seem to improve the communication in your relationship, consider talking with a counselor. Most of us find some experiences or topics difficult to talk about. It may be something that is emotionally painful or makes us feel uncomfortable. For example, some people find it difficult to express their past hurts. It is often the things that cannot be talked about that hurt the most.
Counselors are trained to recognize the patterns in a couple’s communication that are causing problems and to help change those. It is better to act early and talk to someone about your concerns, rather than wait until things get worse.
Expressing one’s thoughts and feelings is not only important in relationship with family members, it is also important with those who we interact with on a day-to-day basis. During family travels, we often go out to eat. At times, I find myself preoccupied mentally and sometimes, during ordering our food, may be breviloquent with the waiter or waitress. This is not intentional and is this is no excuse for bad manners. I did not fully become aware of this behavior until both my sister in-law and spouse bringing up my brevity. As a result, I now try harder to be in the present moment when communicating with someone in a restaurant or other settings because my intentions are not to be rude or disengaged—that is not who I am as a person. Nevertheless, I know that’s something I continue to need to work on. These are some of my personal experiences that I have shared in regards to communication issues that arise for me. We all have some form of communication that can be improved upon. I encourage the reader to explore how he or she is communicating and what can be done to communicate more effectively. Communication comes in many forms. Please be aware and learn about all the ways you communicate. It has been my experience in counseling that non-verbal expressions are the most problematic, and I encourage you to gain awareness of your own nonverbal communications skills. Examine what is healthy and what you can improve on! It takes practice, practice, practice.