Communication is the primary mode used to address the needs of any relationship. A baby cries to alert his mother that he wants breakfast. A dog sits at the back door to alert his owner that he needs an outdoor break. A teenager acts out in class to capture the attention of his parents. A young married woman works at her office around the clock to put her husband on notice that the proposed homemaker role is not for her. An older engaged man spends his day running errands and tidying up the home to convey his acceptance of the homemaker role in his relationship. An older single woman earns a second income to prove to her adult children that she is no longer suffering as a result of her empty nest. While the act of speaking is a factor of communication, the prior examples support the fact that people are able to communicate important messages without saying a word. Nonverbal communication is just as important, if not more important, as verbal communication. What you don’t say is just as critical as what you say. Your actions are just as significant as your words. Whether the relationship is a marriage, friendship, business partnership or employment relationship, the ability to effectively communicate is vital to successful interactions.
Communicating is about discovering how you can give others what they need, as well as draw the nontangible things that you need from others. It can be challenging to sort the people in your life and determine what each person supplies you with. Some people may supply you with inspiration, while others provide challenges. You may draw courage from the courageous and spirituality from the mindful. No person in your life will give 100% challenges or even 99% inspiration. We are all mixed bags of emotions. Complexity is in your DNA, literally. Don’t let that deter you. Each person provides, at least, one emotional need consistently, and this need dominates your relationship with the person.
Once you recognize the nature of each of your emotional sources, you will be able to communicate better with that particular person. The process of discovering what each person gives to you will lead you to examine what you provide to them. Such examination is significant, because you may find that there is an imbalance in one or more of your relationships. Do not be shocked if your examination reveals that you are providing a ton of emotional support to someone who is providing you with a ton of drama. In this case, the negative energy from the person negates your positive emotional support, and you will have to communicate to resolve the impact of emotional drainage.
Additionally, knowing that you can draw out what you need from each source heightens your awareness of your role within relationships. This increased level of awareness is necessary for you to honor those who make your life more worthwhile. Public recognition and dignity are universal human needs. Without recognition, you may feel unappreciated or taken for granted. This means that the positive things you do each day may be undermined by thoughts of low self-worth, causing you to believe that your good works are in vain. By recognizing others for their positive contribution to your life, you are opening the lines of communication for them to recognize others, as well as recognize you. Recognizing someone is simple, yet powerful. It sends the message to the lone person in the figurative corner of their life: “Hi. I see you what you’re doing over there, and I think that it’s awesome. I appreciate your existence.”
Discerning your sources also establishes confidence. Confidence is the first indicator that you will follow through to resolve the issues that you are communicating about. Confidence is not to be confused with arrogance or aggressiveness. Maintaining eye contact, a friendly, but firm, tone and a listening ear can help you to communicate with confidence. Confidence is necessary for effective communication because a lack of confidence can affect your ability to engage in active listening and, ultimately, provide constructive feedback. One who lacks confidence may speak over others in conversation to convey lack of agreement with the speaker’s ideas, contempt for the speaker as a person, or compensate for lack of knowledge and experience in the area being discussed. Failing to allow the other person to speak uninterrupted is an open display of disrespect that creates tension and barriers to solid communication. Also, it is difficult for two people that speak at the same time to make solid strides towards compromise, because neither party is engaged in active listening. Arrogance and aggressiveness convey a lack of empathy to the speaker and should be avoided at all costs. Focus on your objective, which is a positive flow of confidence in communication.
Communicating in advance regarding different needs is necessary to prevent misunderstanding surrounding various issues. In a marriage, two people will never have the exact same needs. A wife may value spending time with her partner, while a husband may value spending time with others. A wife may need time alone, while a husband may crave quality time with his partner. A wife may want to go out dancing, while her husband may want to hang out in a bar. A wife may want to attend a sports event, while a husband may prefer watching television at home. While the various needs of the partners may be viewed as a form of division, this is a sign of a healthy relationship between two people who aren’t dependent on each other for their mental outlook and hobby choices. This is positive because personalities and preferences are formed long before relationships begin. Entering a relationship should not cause these qualities to fade away. As these qualities aren’t likely to waver, it is crucial to communicate these preferences in advance to prevent confusion in the relationship. A husband may become confused if his wife loved to go to dance clubs at the beginning of their relationship and suddenly stopped going. A wife may be confused if her husband loved to spend quality time with her but suddenly started to hang out with his friends more. Communicating about needs before issues arise simplifies the process of conversing about changing needs. Approach these conversations with an open heart and mind to understand the other person’s point of view.
What is good communication? Good communication is clear and concise. The requirement for clarity is met by speaking in a direct manner while using plain words without fillers. Concision is achieved by thinking about what you say before you say it. Note that messages that are too lengthy may be cut short by the listener, who may stop listening after a period of time and reject your message, due to impatience or a lack of understanding. Try to convey your message using as few words as possible. Good communication strikes a balance between active listening and direct speech. Good communication also entails speaking in a manner that allows those who hear your message to have a clear understanding of what objectives you would like to achieve by the end of the conversation, and what follow-up you would like performed after the discussion is done.
Communication is a never-ending cycle. At times, multiple conversations may be needed before a particular issue is resolved and action is taken. If the parties to the conversation are beginning to grow weary, due to emotional stress, or if important issues were not discussed during the initial rounds of discussions, the parties should agree to select a specific time to discuss unresolved issues. It is critical that both people listen to the priorities of the other. Priorities that are not heard cannot be considered or addressed.
Barriers to effective communication include several passive aggressive forms of communication, such as pouting, sulking and utilizing the silent treatment. These barriers of emotional abuse adversely impact your relationships by delaying resolution of known issues and causing partners to stew in their stress hormones. Pouting is a form of manipulation. A partner who pouts is seeking a reaction that he believes he cannot obtain from his partner through other means. On the surface, the other partner may believe that the pouting partner feels that they aren’t getting the attention they deserve. However, the pouting partner may also resort to pouting when he believes his partner is authoritarian and difficult to talk to. The best way to address a pouting partner is to wait until the person has calmed down and discuss the frustration and disappointment that led to pouting. You may also communicate the alternative ways to address frustration in a manner that is direct.
Sulking is another form of passive-aggressive communication that creates a barrier to resolution of outstanding issues in relationships. Sulking is an agonizing form of self-pity that leaves affected parties feeling puzzled and hurt. As with pouting, the sulking partner’s perception leads to a downward spiral in communication. Sulking is another form of manipulation. Sulking may be used as a form of punishment. The sulking partner aims to make their partner feel guilty for the plight that the two are in. This person may feel powerless in their living situation, and sulking may be their only defense mechanism. Ultimately, sulking involves a pity party at the expense of the relationship. Frequent sulking may become a habit and interrupt daily interactions. The best way to address a sulking partner is to wait until the sulking ends and ask how you can help your partner overcome such feelings of angst and doubt.
The silent treatment is another form of passive aggressive communication. The partner that initiates the silent treatment hopes to win arguments by withdrawing, causing the other person to forfeit their concerns. Partners that choose to engage in the silent treatment end resolution efforts by discontinuing any form of verbal communication and/or leaving. Neither partner can hope to resolve an issue that fails to be discussed. A narcissistic partner engaged in the silent treatment may exhibit their contempt through nonverbal gestures while avoiding and disempowering their significant other. The act of ignoring and excluding one’s partner effectively alienates and ruins any opportunity for timely reconciliation. Ultimately, the silent treatment, sulking and pouting are forms of abuse used by emotionally manipulative people who seek a position of control while silencing their partner’s attempt at assertion. The best way to overcome any form of passive-aggressive communication is to wait until the anger subsides and directly address the situation with your partner. If such behavioral patterns persist, you should solicit the help of a licensed counselor or spiritual advisor.
The nature of communication determines the longevity of relationships. To communicate effectively, be completely honest and direct. Life is too short for filler words and passive-aggressive behavior. Master the arts of empathy and compromise. Remember to respect your partner and the established mental and physical boundaries. Recognize the good in your partner and others and surround yourself with those who recognize and appreciate you. Communication is a process that entails a lifetime of learning and practice, but the relationship rewards are well worth it. With honest and direct communication, there’s no limit to how high your relationships will soar.