#1. Without it, your relationships are toast.
Communication is the glue that holds relationships together. No matter how cliche that might be, it is the truth. And the older and busier I become, the harder it is to accomplish…
When I was younger and had fewer responsibilities, I was not so bad at communicating. I remembered my friends’ birthdays, with cards and gifts, and did a much better job of just keeping up with others in general than I do now.
But somewhere over the past few years, I’ve let my communicating skills go downhill. I didn’t notice it happening, had no clue that anything had changed. But as my life has gotten busier, and more responsibilities have come along, I have let my work, my child, my farm, my marriage- take the place of time I used to spend connecting with, and doing things for people, to let them know I care about them and consider them important in my life.
This maybe isn’t all bad, after all, I do need to be responsible here at home; but when neglecting communication almost causes you to lose a longtime friendship, you stop and think… “What could I have done differently so as to fulfill my responsibilities, but still let my friends know I haven’t forgotten them? What ways can I improve my communication in the future, so that instead of my busy-ness making my friends feel neglected, I can still reach out and bless them?”
I’m still working on the answers, haven’t reached my goals here, but my wake up call did not go un-noticed! So if you are my friend, and you too have been feeling like I’m wrapped up in myself and forgetting about you, I’m terribly sorry and I’m going to strive to improve as a friend!
# 2 The Golden Rule doesn’t neccesarily always work in communication.
“Seriously?” you might say. “But the Golden Rule always works! In any situation!” Yes, in most situations, but not every one! I have found that sometimes “what I would have others do unto me” is not at all what they “would have me do unto them.” In the situation I mentioned, I was treating the person the way I would want to be treated, (for years!) when suddenly I discovered that all along it had felt contrary to how they wanted to be treated.
What I thought was consideration and kindness, was interpreted by them as unconcern and selfishness. What I considered open, frank communication; to my friend felt like criticism and negativity. What I saw as good-natured teasing, felt to them like cruelty. Yes, there was a lack of communication on both sides, but ultimately the problem was failure on my part to realize that I was unintentionally hurting my friend.
In considering the situation since then, I see how much our circumstances affect how we communicate. I grew up in a home where we were straight-forward and told each other what we thought. We loved to laugh, so there was never a lack of good natured teasing, it was just part of life. But I can completely understand how someone who grew up in a different style of home would find our banter intimidating or even hurtful. I want to be more aware of and sensitive to such differences in the future..
Communication is knowing the other person well enough to realize if the Golden Rule isn’t cutting it. Or being perceptive enough to detect when they are uncomfortable. I have room to grow in this (and pretty much every other area of communication.)
I do feel that open communication on BOTH sides is simply KEY to a good relationship. If someone feels mistreated by me, I would so much rather they state that on my first offense, rather than suffer and let the little wounds fester until they become big wounds, on account of my carelessness and their unwillingness to confront me concerning that carelessness.
Open communication removes so much of the guesswork in any relationship. (However, “The most important key in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” -Peter Drucker)
#3. Communication doesn’t always come easily or naturally.
Talking, maybe. Communication, not so much. The fact that two people are talking doesn’t mean they are communicating, and when they are silent, you can’t be sure that they are not communicating. Sometimes more is said in a silence than one could ever begin to say if they attempt to fill that silence.
For myself, if I am going through something difficult, it means the world to me to just have a friend to be there. Just be there. No words are needed, for me there is comfort in sympathetic silence. But for some, silence feels cold and lonely, and they would prefer that you find some way to make it go away… Just say something!!!
Communication is knowing the person well enough that you can tell which is needed. Communication is pushing past what feels natural to provide that comfort, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable in the process.
#4 Raising your voice does not improve communication.
Well… maybe if the other person is hard of hearing… but only then! I am not the most patient person, as I’ve stated here before, and I can recall a few times that my husband has sweetly said: “I can hear you just fine, you don’t need to yell.”
Usually I don’t even realize I have raised my voice, and that’s all it takes to lower my volume.
But I have no doubt that my hubby processes and understands what I am trying to say, just as well or better if I keep my voice sweet, than he does if I raise my voice.
“Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly, so they can hear your words, and not just your voice.” -L.R. Knost
#5. Technology isn’t necessarily helpful to communication.
It can be, if used correctly. But as with almost anything else, it can be misused and cause problems. When faced with conflict, whether with my sweet hubby (just being real here) 🙂-or with a friend, I find there is nothing like a good one-on-one, face-to -face conversation. If that’s not possible, a phone conversation will do. And by phone conversation I mean voice call only. Not by text message. God forbid!
Okay, so I’m exposing my humanity here, but did you ever notice how easy it is to be super snarky if your mode of “communication” is text messaging? There is way too much room for misunderstanding that way. Do yourself a favor and skip that route completely. Wait for a chance to talk one-on-one! I almost guarantee it will go better.
#6 The Bible has some helpful pointers for healthy communication.
My favorite verse referring to this subject is Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord…”
Some other verses you may look up are Proverbs 15:11, Psalm 37:30, Proverbs 16: 23,24 and James 1:19.
I’ll add just one more favorite of mine. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth generously to all without reproach, and it shall be given him.”
Maybe this verse isn’t written in the context of communication and interpersonal relationships, but I believe it is a perfect fit. I have found that asking God for wisdom in choosing the right words is an incredible help when faced with a miscommunication.
If this feels like a sermon to you, it is. It’s a sermon I’m preaching to myself. I am resolving to be a better communicator. I’m thinking if I strive for better communication with my husband and my friends, maybe I can have it perfected by the time my children are teenagers. (Wink wink!) Then communicating with them should be no problem! 😉
Here are a few more quotes I found concerning communication:
“Hidden resentment poisons a relationship. If something bothers you, say it!” -unknown
“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” -Gabriel Garcia Marquez”
10% of conflict is due to difference in opinion. 90% is due to delivery and tone of voice.” -unknown
You all have a great weekend, I gotta go work on my communicating skills!