Without effective communication, no relationship stands a chance. We talk (and listen) all day long, but only a small part of our communication takes place in words. Most of the time we believe the other is listening to and understanding what we saying, but by and large, this is not the case. Most of the time the other person is planning what he or she will say back, or tuning out, or building up some kind of fantasy that has nothing to do with what is going on at that moment. When we are fighting, we want more than ever to be understood and words go flying back and forth like arrows. At this point, resolution to the problem can be far away.
So what are the secrets of effective communication? How do we truly get what we want and give each other what we need? Let's look at the top two communication problems and see how they can be solved. Once this is done, you'll be off to a wonderful start in building the kind of relationship you have always wanted.
Problem One: Wanting to Be Right and Prove the Other Wrong
Before you are able to communicate effectively, you must look carefully at your intention. Are you communicating in order to be understood, to get what you want, or do you have another intention behind the words you are saying? Many couples end up just wanting to prove that they are in the right and their partner is wrong (and always has been). This is communication as war. These words are filled with anger and blame. They cause the other person to feel small, bad or inadequate. The words in these communications are never listened to. However what is read loud and clear is the anger and righteousness behind what is being said. To remedy this, decide that you will stop blaming each other, and give each other a chance to truly be heard. Decide you do not have to prove a case, but find a way to establish a bridge of mutual understanding. These intentions are tremendously helpful in allowing a relationship to succeed.
Problem Two: Not Being Able to Hear the Other Person
Remember, communication consists not only of talking, but also listening and hearing what is being said. We can do a whole workshop on the art of listening, but to start, it is crucial to realize that each person can only truly "hear" what is being said if they are willing to put aside their own point of view and really be available to know the heart and mind of the other. This is not as simple as it sounds. Many of us immediately interpret what we are hearing, and put it into a ready-made slot. Others distort what is being said. Others pretend to listen, but are occupied with their own thoughts. A solution to this is to repeat to the other what you think they have said. Let them know how their communication is filtering through to you. Let them make adjustments to your version of their message. And finally, be willing to really hear what they mean.