George Bernard Shaw wrote: "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." There are many common pitfalls for people in their communication. One of which is the assumption that you have communicated effectively, when in fact you haven't.
A relationship cannot last without communication. It is one of the biggest areas we work on with our clients, so we will looking at important points all week to help you have healthier communication.
Do you find yourself saying the following statements?
- "I often can't seem to find the right words to express what I want to say." When people feel this, they often close up. When they aren't sure what to say they shut down and shut up. This is a big problem in a relationship because you will tend to sweep things under the rug. Issues will often build up and explode if not dealt with. Even though you struggle with what to say, it is important to spend time thinking about what message you want your partner to hear and start there.
- "I worry that exposing myself to my partner will result in rejection." Fear of rejection is a common issue for most people. It stings and can trigger painful abandonment issues. But not getting vulnerable with your partner will keep you from the intimacy you are longing for. Take a little time to build trust and then start getting vulnerable a little at a time. The results can open a totally different level of deeper communication that will bring you closer.
- "I often don't talk because I'm afraid my opinion is wrong." Is an opinion really right or wrong? I know it doesn't feel good to have someone challenge your opinion or disagree with you, but if it is important to you- stand your ground. Regardless of how everyone else looks at something, you might have a unique perspective to offer. If you hold it in for fear of what others will think, they will never know that part of who you are and how you see things. Speaking up is a way for others to know you.
- "Speaking up will only make things worse." People try to avoid conflict and rocking the boat all the time. But keeping an issue in can make it worst too. "Hoarding" emotional issues will cause a big explosion in the end. Would you rather deal with the issue at hand in the moment, or wait until it grows into something bigger through resentment and bitterness? Dealing with an issue- all of it- at one time is best in order for you to move past it in a healthy way. Remember this doesn't mean you shouldn't find a good time to talk or speak up in a "fighting fair way". If you speak up in an unhealthy way, it may get worse before it gets better.
- "I talk too much and don't give my partner a chance to speak." Many relationships have this issue. One person is overpowering that the other lives in the shadows and is along for the ride. It can often feel lopsided and as if everything is "all about him/her" in the relationship. When this happens a person feels less valued and learns that they won't get to have a voice, so they stop trying. Pause and let your partner speak. You might discover something about them you never knew!
Check back all week for more communication pointers!
Source: Relationship Communication Test on drphil.com
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling.