Good relationships are the basis of functional and happy individuals and society. A key ingredient is having open and honest communication, and here are some ideas on how you achieve this skill.
The level of poor or inadequate communication is seen in high divorce rates, racism, endless political debates and many other examples. These all demonstrate how we are better at separating ourselves from others, rather than trying to understand each other and work as partners. Communication can be hindered by so many things, such as instilled ideas that without our choice have been part of our upbringing. Luckily these traits are not imprinted in our DNA and can be changed or worked on. We are not totally a product of our upbringing or our genes, but we have the free-will to choose what we want to think and say. To have open and free communication, the first step is to be aware of our shortcomings and be willing to change.
Throughout our personal growth and development, we have experienced times when we have suppressed our own communication because it was uncomfortable or the fear that it could hurt someone else’s feeling or similar ideas. And, in our personal relationship we might have experienced people that just blatantly refuse to discuss certain subjects as is often seen in families with addiction. This silence easily becomes the preverbal “elephant in the Living room”. In trying to address suppressed and unspoken ideas, it can come out of us in ways that are inappropriate and actually communicate something other than what was intended to communicate to the other person. When you don’t get to talk about certain subjects, the stifled communication builds tension within us which can become overwhelming, and give us a feeling of not being in control of our words, thoughts and feelings. However, every communication is better than none, as long as the people involved are willing to challenge and tease-out the truth of what is being said and not end the communication without clarity.
Another way good communication is hindered, is when the communication is being altered, either by the person, or by a third party. For a communication to lead to more clarity, less confusion and a feeling of understanding, we have to communicate the truth. This doesn’t mean you have to blare out everything that comes to mind if it’s going to offend or make a person feel bad about themselves, but it means using tact in what you say and filtering your thoughts through kindness and compassion before speaking. To have honest and open communication one must be careful about not altering the intention or reality of what one was trying to communicate. This happens when a person alters the original communication; usually seen when someone has other intentions than the truth of the original communication, many times referred to as third-party interference.
A third way communication can be hindered is when individuals do not have a shared experience, reality or perception. This is a challenge with relationships from very different cultures, but even if you come from the same culture, each family and person have their own peculiarities. Therefore, good communication is something that takes our effort to listen and understand what another is truly expressing with their communications. It is important to remember that everyone wants to be loved, but to be loved you also have to give love. As the Beatles so thoughtfully and artistically reminded us that no one is to blame as long as the element of love is the foundation of our communication “The love you take is equal to the love you make”.
However, realize that there is a small percentage of the population that always puts themselves first, and also a few that even take enjoyment out of the pain and failure of others. It’s damn near impossible to be in a good relationship with anyone who has these characteristics, but luckily, the majority of people are very capable of change through communication!
To summarize, whether it’s relationships in business, family, with a partner, a friend, it always requires open and honest communication to get to a point of closeness, better understanding and growth. And, to get to a point of true communication, you need willingness and practice! If you are willing to be honest, emotionally mature and dare to be vulnerable, and you have a desire to bring happiness to others, then practice is all it’s going to take.
So, if you truly love someone and wish to see them grow and be happy, and you are willing to work on true communication (and the other person feels likewise), you are on the road to a good relationship.
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