Why communication matters?
The world is a very fast paced place and depending on where you live the pace can get even faster. I grew up in Massachusetts, USA and because of the season changes the days are much shorter there so people are in a bigger hurry than in some other places of the country or world. I recall moving out to Arizona and life was so much more relaxed and it felt like the day was so extended for most people. I was always getting told to relax and take things a little slower.
Now I bring the pace of life up because during our lifetimes we spend so much time in the hustle and bustle of daily living that often we forget one of the most important things human beings (and only human beings) can have and it is a conversation. Be it a simple conversation or something more complex as problem solving. We forget to truly communicate and have meaningful conversations.
How many times are you in a conversation face to face, on the phone, or text messaging and you are looking at your clock or trying to do something else? I do it often, or I will yes someone without even know what I am saying yes to. Parents are infamous for this one. Being busy is no excuse for eliminating conversations with others, especially the important ones.
How many divorces began that path through problems with communication? How many problems with children could have been resolved with a better conversation with your child? What about your job and the frustration or stress there is it because conversations are not happening to keep employees happy? These questions are reality in today’s world and there is a different answer for each and every one of us. How do conversations begin?
Let’s first begin with a pretty basic idea, conversations take at least two people to start. A person to speak and a person to listen. Both of these people play an active role in a conversation. Now the next important thing is that conversation is a two-way street and both parties participate by speaking than listening. We all know this fact but do we all do it?
I remember a group I attended almost 40 years ago and the group leader was teaching about fair fighting. My thoughts immediately were why would anyone want to teach people how to fight? Once the group was over I learned some really big things about communication and participating in a conversation.
First, when one person talks nobody interrupts or does anything but actively listen. Second, when I don’t agree I agree to disagree. Last, don’t say things to anyone with a finger pointing at them keep the conversation in the “I” form. Seemed silly at the time but I began to practice these ideas and there was some successful conversations along the way. What does it mean to keep it in the “I”?
To keep my side of the conversation in the “I” just means to not personalize anything that is said to you. If a comment or action takes place you simply say “I am sorry you feel that way” or “I feel hurt when you say things like that”.
I know this is effective because when I respond in this way my kids absolutely hate and they have told get upset and tell me not respond with it. When you take the personal out of it and keep it in the “I” it usually stops the negative tone. Conversations can get so emotionally motivated and end in not talking or a screaming match. Those of course are unhealthy conversations that can take place.
Another issue that comes up with communication is assuming someone knows what you want or how you feel. This can be so disruptive with conversations that never take place. When a partner does say “I love you” because they already know how I feel. When a parent assumes that a child knows the rule when the rule was never discussed or was from many years earlier. How can I have effective communication with others?
1. Stay in the now with the person you are communicating with
2. Be an active listener, which means paying attention to the other person. As an active listener you do not get ready for your response, watch the clock, or do other things during the time you are supposed to be listening.
3. Have a clear message, avoid sarcasm, body language or tones in your voice. State exactly what your wants and needs are without leaving anything out. Say it assertively keeping emotions out of your statement.
4. Be sure that the other person understands you and that you understand them. So feel safe to ask them to explain an answer again in an assertive tone without personalizing any of the answers or questions.
5. Don’t forget the “I” Statements which we went over earlier. “I” statements give you a sense of control and empowerment.
6. During the conversation staying away from yes or no questions. You want to be sure that you ask questions that will open a conversation up and keep it going. Be sure to stay to understand each others feelings and do not wander off to other subjects.
7. Everyone need validation and it is essential in order for everyone to feel like they have been heard. Feelings aren’t facts but they certainly are real.
A healthy conversation occurs when both a speaker and listener are in active roles that provide respect and the idea of sharing from each person. Conversations are conveyed verbally and non-verbal so be sure the non-verbal cues are matching the verbal to have an effective conversation.
Conversation / communication is a big part of life and relationships and Families. Where there is lack of it dysfunctional relationships can emerge.. no one is perfect we all make mistakes and its never to late to start a conversation with family or friends . As a parent i remember being to busy to listen to my kids just saying yes in a minute over and over.
To brak myself of the lack of communication i told my kids to come to me and say ( mom you told me if i needed to talk you would listen.! And they could always write me a note . It worked for me and no matter what it was they didnt have to fear or worry i wouldnt be mad and we talk and work it out.
Melissa this is great advice for parents because we too often get caught up in the everyday business of life. When we look back on the things that we made a priority it is never those moments we put before our simple conversations with our kids. I would love to say that I didn’t let things get in the way of talking to my children but today I try really hard to make up for that through my grandkids. We can’t go back but we can make new moments for the future children. Thanks again I appreciate the feedback and please keep reading/responding.