Communication is such a blessing – and it can also be a HUGE challenge, when it fails to convey our sentiments and thoughts effectively. And isn’t that what seems to happen a great deal of the time? – Actually, no – that is not what happens a great deal of the time. It’s just that those times when we have relationship discord because of missed communication, it can have a big (and dramatic!) impact on us – and can cause issues that can even be destructive in relationships.
Many of these unhappy and destructive relatonship issues that are presented in the counseling scenarios we encounter can be tracked directly to poor – or even non-existant – communication skills. Good communication is that important to healthy and committed relationships. In particular, relationships between family members, romantic couples in committed relationships and married couples, communication that is clear, concise, respectful, empathic, assertive, loving and uplifting can go a long way in enhancing the relationships God wants for us. But what does good communication look – and sound – like?
We have learned that in communcating something that is sensitive, something that may be uncomfortable to say or to hear can often be fraught with pitfalls. One of the first – and most important – steps in good communcation is a prayerful self-check, asking God to reveal what is motivating the need to communicate with a loved one. In other words, what are the emotions that one is feeling around the issue to be discussed. This is important, as it can assist one to focus on recognizing and owning their part in what needs to be discussed. We also have come to realize that good communication that begins with prayerful reflection of one’s emotions – then a willingness to be vulnerable by sharing what is on one’s heart first – can lead to some of the best and most heartfelt communocation even of sensitive issues.
Being willing to also own one’s part in whatever is going on – the good, the bad, and the unhappy components of relationship discord – is very helpful in disarming a potentially volatile situation. Owning our part in whatever is going on is done by the use of “I” statements: “I feel,” “I think,” “I need,” “I want” may seem self-centered, but in truth, using the pronoun “I” communicates to the listener that we are owning and taking responsibility for our actions, feelings, and contributions to whatever in going on, especially if it is discordant. This goes a long way in helpong the listener to not feel blamed and criticized – which never goes down easy and almost always yields unwanted results.
On the other hand, use of the pronoun “you,” should only be done in an uplifting or neutral way. The danger of use of the pronoun “you” can –and often does – come across as an accusation, with the potential of making the listener feel attacked. This never ends well in communication with loved ones.
The other important part of healthy communication is on the listening side. This is the part when the listener reflects back what he or she heard. It begins with something like, “I heard you say…” or “I understand that you mean…” This is a way of checking out with the speaker and establishing clarity.
Before continuing with sensitive communication, it is important to establish agreement and a clear understanding of what is actually being said. Once this is established, exercising care to continue to own one’s feelings, thoughts, wants, needs and actions will go a long way in helping both to feel safe and more willing to communicate, from the heart, what is so for them.
This description of healthy, assertive communication and active listening, is not a complete communication of the process – limited by the constriants we have for this communication in this format. It is our hope that it provides an opportunity for interest and a commitment to seek more information on this important topic.
With the summer months now upon us and for many of us, a break from our routines, this may be a good time to explore this topic more thoroughly. We are always here and ready to provide more insight. Just ask us –And have a safe and blessed summer!
In His love and to His glory,